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   November 2003 Issue of the Pneuma Informer

The November 2003 Pneuma Informer

In this issue:

What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org

New Articles and other Features on the Pneuma Foundation Website:
New information page about current needs and projects. /volunteers.jsp Read about what volunteers are working on right now to make the Pneuma Foundation more effective as a ministry. Join with us: Please pray for these efforts and consider volunteering alongside of the volunteer staff. Even small efforts can make a big difference.

Most Popular Article
The most popular article being accessed on the Pneuma Foundation website is "How the Prayer Language Comes" by Robert Graves. This article is part of the Praying in the Spirit series which appeared in the Fall 2000 (Vol 3 No 4) issue of the Pneuma Review. The article is in PDF, 26KB in size. www.PneumaFoundation.org/resources/articles/rwgraves008.pdf

Visit Statistics
Unique visitors to the Pneuma Foundation website are now numbering consistently over 2000 per month, with almost 2 out 3 visitors returning at least once throughout the month. There are over 100 visitors per day on average. Thanks for coming by!

Special Thanks
The Pneuma website team is grateful to visitor Hugo H. for telling us about a bad link that appeared on the popular Pentecostal/charismatic Bible Schools. There was a link pointing to something we did not want people to visit instead of a seminary with a similar address. Webmaster Dave Driggs was able to correct the address within minutes of hearing from Brother H. about the problem.

Reports from Around the World

Congo: revival among the Pygmies
"Deep in Congo's jungle, over 100,000 Pygmies have come to Christ in the past 14 years," reports Dutch pastor and church growth researcher Bram Krol, who regularly visits Congo to train pastors and perform research. "Whole villages are turning to Christ, and the Holy Spirit is moving in the jungle as never before." Interestingly enough, few missionaries have visited the Pygmies. The small jungle inhabitants have themselves taken on the missionary challenge of bringing the Gospel to jungle villages through music, song and dance.
Hundreds of thousands, not dozens
Krol discovered the Pygmy movement when speaking to Ds. Luxin, who works among them as a missionary in Evenaars Province. "I heard that dozens of Pygmies have become believers." "Dozens? More than one hundred thousand!" replied Luxin. 300,000 Kitwa–speaking Pygmies live hidden in the jungle, in an area four times as large as Holland. "The majority" have become Christians in the past 14 years, reports Krol, who regularly teaches at a theological college in Congo. Following an invitation from two Pygmy Bible students, Krol flew to Mbandaka, traveled 90 miles up the Congo river and walked for a day to reach the first Pygmy village.
Refusal to accept decline
He was enthusiastically welcomed in every place he visited during his three–week tour of villages up to 120 miles into the jungle. Many villages, some of which are flooded, are developing their own cultural expressions of Christianity. Jungle life is hard; many Pygmies are isolated, socially disadvantaged and belong to the poorest of the poor, living by hunting and gathering tree fruits. They are often discriminated by the surrounding tribes and sold as slaves. Many Pygmies have poor self–esteem and have become apathetic, falling into alcoholism and drug addiction. Krol, though, sees a great opportunity in their encounter with Christ; many of the previously strongly heathen Pygmies have gained the strength to fight against social decline, and stand at the start of a significant process of change.
Source: Bram Krol, www.eo.nl by way of Friday Fax 2003 Issue 41.

Proposal for Greater Accountability
"I want to propose the establishment of an International Council for Ethical Accountability (ICEA). My hope [is] that whatever the name, it could serve in as effective a way as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has and does.
"I propose that the widely accepted National Association of Evangelicals' (NAE) statement of faith be signed by all members of the new council.
"While any one of a field of leaders may answer a reporter's question with a statement disapproving of another leader's conduct, without a broad consensus, the public is left with the notion that every spiritual leader is basically a law unto themselves."
– Jack Hayford, in his article, "Practicing What We Preach," (quoted in Ministries Today, Nov/Dec 2003, Vol 21, No 6, pages 23–24) http://www.ministriestoday.com/online/articledisplay.pl?ArticleID=8215

Ethiopia: when peace comes to the spear throwers
In times not far distant, neighboring people groups feared and despised Ethiopia's 50,000–strong people group Me'en for their drunkenness and violence. "Violence and daily drinking parties had their toll," reports Ruth Weber, missionary in a bush clinic. Spear wounds were commonplace. That, and the local spirit cult gave rise to hopelessness, illness, undernourishment and poverty. The Me'en first heard the Gospel from missionaries in 1993. At first, they all reacted skeptically towards the Gospel, except Gebre, the first Me'en to become a Christian. He then helped in the hospital as a translator.
Deliverance as the key
The first open conflict between the Gospel and the true power behind the Me'en was when Esther, Gebre's stepsister, was tormented by demons. It seemed certain that she would die. The entire clan was afraid, but Gebre proclaimed Jesus as Lord, commanding the demons to leave her. Something entirely unexpected happened: Esther was freed on the spot. The following morning, she said "From now on, Jesus is my Lord." The news of her deliverance spread rapidly, and others followed her example. There are now more than 40 churches in the Me'en area, with over 10,000 Christians. Their faith in Jesus has transformed them: the spears are no longer needed in many places, because they have placed their protection in God's hand. Peace has come to the Me'en.
Source: Ruth Weber, DMG informiert by way of Friday Fax 2003 Issue 44

Other News and Headlines
  • Obituary: Scott Bauer, senior pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., a Foursquare congregation founded by Jack Hayford, has died. Bauer, 49, died Friday, Oct. 24, after he experienced an aneurysm hemorrhage at the conclusion of the Oct. 22 Wednesday night church service. Bauer is Hayford's son–in–law. (Charisma News Service) http://www.charismanews.com/a.php?ArticleID=8228

Comments from Readers and Web Visitors

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"Dear Pneuma Informer,
Thank you for carrying Johannes 'sttveit's commentary on religious freedom on your website. Because of your concern for religious freedom, you may find it useful to know more of Forum 18 News Service. We are a Christian web and e–mail initiative to report on threats and actions against the religious freedom of all people, whatever their religious affiliation, in an objective, truthful and timely manner. Forum 18, our parent, is an Oslo, Norway, based group committed to religious freedom for all on the basis of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. F18News initially reports on countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but will expand to cover other areas where Forum 18 considers there is a need for our reporting and we can provide reporting and commentary of the highest professional standards.
On our website http://www.forum18.org/ there is a searchable archive of our reports, including religious freedom surveys on countries like Turkmenistan. You may freely quote from or reproduce our articles, with credit given to Forum 18 www.forum18.org . We'd welcome a weblink from any website you have influence with to our website. And please do recommend our work to colleagues and friends concerned about religious freedom!
I'd happily arrange for you — or any of your colleagues — to receive the almost daily or weekly editions.
Yours faithfully,"
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"Greetings in the mighty name of our Lord and saviour.
I am in India, thank you for your sending all the reports. I cannot give anything but I will pray for your Ministry. At the same time, remember me in your Prayer and my ministry in India some time we are going through the agony and problem you know the present condition in India. Thank you for your prayer support.
Yours in Him,"
Pastor SI, Aurangabad (India)

"We are Praying for you and I need your prayer and together we should win the world for Christ."
– KI in Africa

"My dear brothers and sisters, greetings in the name of our Lord. I was so glad to find your website because it is exactly what I was praying for! I am a 35 years old male, originally from Greece but now I live and work in Japan ... my vision is to help the local Church here in Japan, proclaim the gospel and help our native hosts to establish Churches throughout the country."
– SC

"Hi, I am Torsten from Sweden. Regarding babelfish auto–translator and your websites: I think the translated pages must be analyzed by someone with perfect knowledge in the target language.
I looked at the German page and some words are not translated (When the robot doesn't find a word, the original will be kept). The German language has a word order different to that of the English language
That means that the whole construction must be re–arranged.
The translating robot is useful, but cannot be used for publishing without careful editing, that's my opinion.
God Bless You and may you expand overwhelmingly!
Regards, Torsten/Sweden"

Thoughts to Ponder: Doing the Will of God
"A belief that God acts with purpose in this world must lead to attempts, however feeble, to discern how my own actions might be attuned to God's one action."
— William Barry in Presence
"Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck; your profession is what you're put here on earth to do—with such passion and such intensity it becomes a spiritual calling."
— Vincent van Gogh, quoted in Edward C. Sellner, Mentoring
"Discerning and acting on God's will does not mean you'll never have difficult days or feel lousy sometimes. But choosing to live in alignment with God makes you more joyful, compassionate, and peaceful, even on bad days."
— Debra K. Farrington, Hearing with the Heart
"God guides us first through his Word, then through our heartfelt desires, then the wise counsel of others, and then our circumstances. At that point we must rely on our own sound judgment... . God gave each of us a brain, and he expects us to put it to good use."
— Bruce K. Waltke, Finding the Will of God
"A talent may be so great that it propels a person forever down one path, as is the case with some artists. But even for these extraordinary folk, call determines whether and how they use their gifts."
— Elizabeth O'Connor, Cry Pain, Cry Hope
"The basic decision, after all, is to let God be God, to say 'yes' to the work of the Lord, which goes before the church's ability to understand or even perceive it."
— Luke Timothy Johnson, Scripture and Discernment

These quotations were compiled by Richard A. Kauffman. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/010/25.98.html

Resources You Can Use

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Beware of those offering donations through unconventional channels
Beware Bogus SWIFTPAY emails:
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The internet has created more scam opportunities than any other creation in history. Yikes.
From missions e–zine Brigada Today (2003/11/07), used with permission.

Excerpts from the Pneuma Review

The Pneuma Review is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.

For more information about the Pneuma Review, and to learn how to subscribe, click here.. There is also subscription information further on in this newsletter.

From "Rightly Understanding God's Word" Chapter Two: Learning Context. Part 2 of 2 by Craig S. Keener.

25. Church Discipline in Matthew 18:18

I used to follow a popular misinterpretation of this verse. As a young Christian, I used to use Matthew 18:18 to "bind" and "loose" demons when I would pray. Fortunately, God is more concerned with our faith than with our formulas, and graciously answered my prayers whether or not I threw any "binding" in. But one day I read Matthew 18:18 in context, and I realized that I had been misinterpreting the passage. Because my prayers had "worked," I decided to keep "binding" and "loosing"–but now that I knew better, it did not work anymore, because my heart could no longer be right while doing it! Happily, I found that God still answered my prayers prayed in Jesus' name without "binding." What do "binding" and "loosing" mean in this context?

In the context, Jesus indicates that if one's fellow–Christian is living a sinful lifestyle, one must confront that Christian; if he or she refuses to listen, one should bring others so one will have two or three witnesses if one must bring the matter before the church. If that person refuses to repent, despite repeated loving confrontations, the church must put that person out of the church to teach the person repentance (Matt. 18:15–17). In this context, Jesus declares that whatever they "bind" or "loose" on earth will have already been "bound" or "loosed" in heaven–i.e., under these circumstances, they clearly act on God's authority (18:18). Because the terms "binding" and "loosing" literally have to do with imprisoning or releasing people, and Jewish teachers used these terms to describe their legal authority, the terms make good sense in this context: the church must discipline its erring members, removing them from participation in the church if they continue in unapologetic sin.

The "two or three" who pray in this context (18:19) refer to the two or three witnesses (18:16). I used to read this passage and worry that my prayers would be less efficacious if I could not find someone to join me in prayer. I did wonder, however, why my own faith would be insufficient. But this verse does not imply that prayer is effective only for a minimum of two persons. It promises that even if only two witnesses are available, and even if the prayers or actions on earth involve something as serious as withdrawing a person from the church, God will back up His servants whom He has authorized. Perhaps the specific prayer in mind is a prayer that God will bring the disfellowshiped person to repentance and restoration. If so, Jesus deliberately contrasts the attitude required of His followers with the two or three witnesses in the Old Testament law, who were to be the first to stone those against whom they testified (Deut. 17:7). Probably alluding to a Jewish saying circulating in the early centuries of this era–"Wherever two or three gather to study God's law, His presence is among them"–Jesus assures His followers (specifically the witnesses) of His presence even in the difficult situation of church discipline (Matt 18:20).

Although we cannot take space here to comment further on the matter, this particular passage offers no support for the common practice of "binding" demons as it is done today. Whereas "binding demons" in the way it is generally practiced today has no warrant in this text, however, it does appear in some ancient magical texts, which makes this practice even more suspect.

. . .

  • Read the rest of this article in the Fall 2003 issue of the Pneuma Review.

Book Review:
2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. Eddie L. Hyatt. Charisma House (Lake Mary, FL: 2002), 225 pages.

Have you ever been told that the charismatic movement is new and therefore theologically suspicious? Do not believe such rumors because they are not true, as this book clearly demonstrates. Actually, there may not be another book available today that presents such a continuity of the ministry of the Holy Spirit throughout church history. This book handily debunks the old claim that Pentecostal/charismatics are the new kids on the theological block.

This readable history of the charismata offers convincing evidence that Pentecostal/charismatics stand in a long tradition of God's supernatural power in His people. From the book of Acts, to the time of persecution under the Roman emperors, to the suppression of the charismata with the institutionalization of the church, to the preservation of those gifts among some ecclesiastical orders and movements outside the institutional church, to the rediscovery of the gifts by the Great Reformation, to the Wesleys and the holiness movements that followed them, to the 20th Century Pentecostal and charismatic movements–Hyatt summarizes the history of the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit among God's people.

As a student of Pentecostal/charismatic history, the most significant highlights for me were: the succinct way in which the institutionalizing of the church under Constantine was presented as the quencher of the gifts; the explanation of the Anabaptists and Mennonites in contrast to the excessive movements that started from the same Radical Reformation; and a more thorough look at the real nature of Charles Parham's ministry and its impact on the early Pentecostal movement. Two things I would have liked to have seen would be, first, a summary of some of the great research Dr. Jack Deere on the charismatic nature of the Great Reformation (see especially Surprised by the Voice of God from Zondervan, 1998). Dr. Deere makes quite a case for how any history of the supernatural has been suppressed by anti–charismatic religious leaders (Unfortunately, Hyatt seems to make the same mistake as many classical Pentecostals in equating Calvinism with cessationism [see page 112]. Of course, charismatic Calvinists would object to this assertion). Secondly, the locations of historical events and people seemed to move further and further west throughout the chronology. Although this is an excellent beginning, I also long to see a history of Eastern and global Christianity from a Pentecostal/charismatic perspective.

Looking forward, Hyatt tells us the lessons we stand to learn, "History would inform us that the key for the church in the twenty–first century is not to be found in outward form and structure. Both the New Testament and church history indicate that the key for the church is to be found in an inner attitude of faith in Christ and an openness to the wind of the Spirit that blows, not where He must, but where He wills" (p. 191).

I highly recommend this introduction to the undeniable history of the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit through all of church history.

Reviewed by Raul L. Mock

From "The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Means" By J. Rodman Williams

. . .

The laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit has continued variously in the history of the Church. The practice belongs particularly to the Western tradition of Christianity, but with diverse understanding of what is conveyed in the gift. Sometimes it is assumed that through the laying on of hands there is the completing or perfecting of what was given earlier in water baptism; or, again, it is held that water baptism needs no completion or perfection, so that what happens through the imposition of hands is rather a confirming or strengthening of the person for the Christian walk. However, there is seldom in the traditional church any expectation that through the laying on of hands an extraordinary spiritual event will take place, namely, the gift of the Spirit as the veritable outpouring of God's presence and power.

Here, again, is where the contemporary spiritual renewal is recapturing the biblical witness. Through the laying on of hands, people are receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, not in the sense of completion or perfection of confirmation (though it may include elements of both), but in the sense of a divine visitation so overwhelming as to release extraordinary praise and channels of powerful ministry. There is the exciting expectation that when hands are laid on a person, the Holy Spirit Himself will be given.33

Here two points need emphasis: first, as we have already observed, there is no necessity for hands to be laid on persons for them to receive the Holy Spirit. The exalted Lord may dispense with all ordinary means and sovereignly pour forth the Holy Spirit. Second, though the Holy Spirit may also be given through the laying on of hands, it would be a mistake to assume that this happens invariably, i.e. by virtue of the objective action.34 We have earlier commented that faith–believing–is the essential element in the reception of the Holy Spirit; thus in all the biblical incidents of the laying on of hands it is upon believers that hands are laid. For only those who believe in Jesus Christ may receive from Him the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit.

. . .

  • Read the rest of this article in the Fall 2003 issue of the Pneuma Review. All endnotes appear with the full issue in the journal.

Prayer Requests

  • Go & Preach My Gospel Ministries in Medchal, India has asked for prayer about the following specific requests: (a) Pray to win the lost souls in every part of this nation.
    (b) Pray for the congregations to be strengthened with true and living Word of God.
    (c) Pray for the financial needs of the ministries.
    (d) Pray for a vehicle for the gospel work to reach various remote places.
    Reference Number: 90008837
  • Pray for believers in Laos: A Christian who enthusiastically shared his faith was recently murdered. According to Christian Aid Mission (CAM), the believer identified only as Sompong was found dead Aug. 4 after he left Vernkan village with a police officer who had arrested him years before because of his faith.
    Sompong became a Christian while visiting Thailand several years ago. Upon returning to Vernkan, he frequently shared the gospel. His father, a nonbeliever and former military officer, warned him not to be so enthusiastic about his faith.
    In 1999, Sompong and 10 other believers from the Attapue and Champasak provinces were arrested for practicing what is considered an illegal religion. Sompong was released 18 months later. While in prison, he reportedly witnessed to other prisoners and officers. After his release, he continued to practice his faith.
    CAM said before the death of Sompong, Christians in Keng village had received verbal and written death threats. But when international pressure caused Lao officials to back off, some Christians believe authorities turned their attention to Vernkan village, where Sompong was the only believer.
    "As a result, many Christians in southern Laos now fear that similar attacks will take place among them," said CAM officials, who urged believers worldwide to pray earnestly for the safety and well–being of Lao Christians.
    Source: Charisma News Service, 10/16/03. Used with permission.
  • Pastor Ngamkholal Haokip of Manipur, India writes: "Please humbly kneel at the Lord's feet and pray for me so that I would get a church to sponsor me to do my theological studies in any colleges of USA." http://www.netministries.org/see/churches/ch24370
  • Anointing Grace of Christ Ministry is requesting prayer for their efforts to promote the work of the Lord in the unreached city slums, towns, and villages of Ghana, Togo, and Benin. They have already planted 5 churches in Togo and Ghana, and are asking for prayer support for youth, women and children ministries. Also, there are needs for a church building, support for Bible school students and pastors, and equipment for their work. Reference Number: 90008840

Praise Reports

  • Darcy, a friend of the ministry who has helped send Pneuma Foundation mailings in the past, writes: "Praise be to God! My youngest son Riley went to the eye doctor last week and he had a bad report. We since then have talked with our pediatrician and he referred us to a specialist in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan. He went there today, and came back with a great report. He does not have retinal blastoma. The cataract that he has is also not anything to worry about at this time. The outcome might even be better than we hope. The eye doctor here prescribed glasses, but the doctor there said he just wants to patch it for a while to make his eye grow stronger. He might not even need to use glasses. We are so blessed with this news. Thank you all for your prayers, they were so answered. Let me say it again, Praise be to God!"

Please pray for the family and congregation of Scott Bauer, senior pastor of The Church on the Way (Foursquare) in Van Nuys, California. Bauer, 49, died Friday, Oct. 24, after he experienced an aneurysm hemorrhage at the conclusion of the Oct. 22 Wednesday night church service. Jack Hayford, who founded The Church on the Way, is Bauer's father–in–law. (Charisma News Service)

  • Please send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We have a great God who always meets our needs.
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