The March 2004 Pneuma Informer
In this issue:
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What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org
New Articles and other Features on the Pneuma Foundation Website:
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New Articles Available:
Reports from Around the World
In the world today: Did you know?
There are 6.2 billion people alive,
600 million churchgoers every week,
1.5 billion Christians who regularly listen to or watch Christian radio and TV,
1,883 million 'laypeople' (99.8% of church membership), 150 million Christian pilgrims each year, 250 million Christians who travel abroad as tourists each year, 50 global prayer networks (35 active),
25 million in full–time prayer ministry,
15 million weekly prayer groups,
200 million Christians praying for world mission every day,
3.45 million local churches,
23,000 ministries and agencies,
400,000 base ecclesial communities,
481,000 Christian institutions,
170,000 Christian schools,
1,500 Christian colleges and universities, 4,800 Bible Schools and Theological Seminaries, 5,500 Christian hospitals, 30,000 Christian medical centres, 58% of Christians are rich (11% wealthy, 37% comfortable, 10% getting by), 42% of Christians are poor (29% needy, 13% in poverty), average Christian income: US$ 8,050 p.a., average donation per person and week: US$ 2.75,
1.1 million ordained clergy (8% women),
500,000 monks and 1.3 million nuns,
1.2 million professional theologians,
3,000 evangelistic events each year.
Source: World Christian Trends, William Carey Library, David Barrett &Todd Johnson, http://www.gem-werc.org/gd/gd.htm in "Resources for Mission" by way of Friday Fax 2004 Issue 10.
United States: Growth in Religious Activity Does Not Take Place in Church
A new study has found that more adults are reading their Bible, participating in small religious groups and praying, but church–related involvement has remained flat over the past decade. According to the latest study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), which has conducted an annual survey of the nation's religious behavior for 20 years, there was significant change related to the three behaviors.
Released Monday, the survey of 1,014 adults discovered that 44 percent read from the Bible during the past week (other than while at church), up from 37 percent in 1994 and 36 percent in 1999. Bible reading jumped most noticeably among Protestants (up from 47 percent in 1994 to 59 percent in 2004) and residents of the Western states of California, Oregon and Washington (rising from 29 percent a decade ago to 44 percent today).
BRG found that another shift was in participating in small religious groups that meet during the week for the purpose of prayer, Bible study or spiritual fellowship, excluding Sunday school or other church classes.
In 1994, just 12 percent of adults engaged in those activities, but 20 percent of adults do so in 2004. The biggest increase was evident among men (a 100 percent leap, from 18 percent to all men); people 58 or older (more than double, from 14 percent to 29 percent); Protestants (increasing from 17 percent to 28 percent); and residents of the West (up from 11 percent to 26 percent).
The final area of growth concerned prayer. Eighty–three percent of adults prayed to God during the past week in 2004, up from 77 percent in 1999. BRG did not track personal prayer in 1994.
Despite the growth in Bible reading, small group participation and prayer, there was no change over the past decade in four other religious behaviors measured: church attendance (42 percent in 1994, 43 percent in 2004); volunteering to help a church (25 percent in 1994, 24 percent in 2004); attending adult Sunday school classes (21 percent in 1994 and 2004); and sharing Christ with non–believers (58 percent in 1999, 55 percent in 2004–a behavior measured only among born–again Christians).
"Notice that the growth activities are those that do not take place at a church," BRG president George Barna said. "The church–oriented endeavors showed no movement. This may be an early warning sign that we are entering a new era of spiritual experience – one that is more tribal or individualized than congregational in nature."
Source: Charisma News Service, March 4, 2004 edition. Used with permission.
Switzerland & Togo: One life changed changes many
It all began in Berne, Switzerland: a young African stood with a small group near the restaurant where Martin B'hlmann and Bene M'ller, Senior Pastor and worship leader of the Vineyard Berne eat lunch. Martin and Bene spoke with the group, inviting them to church. The following Sunday, some of the men came, and experienced God. One of them, Cosmos Touleassi, had a vision one night that week, became a follower of Christ, and lived his new faith as a refugee from Togo, Western Africa. In the following years, Cosmos and his wife Peace trained others part time to follow Christ. They later returned to Togo, to plant Vineyard churches. Today, Cosmos and Peace are the national leaders of the Vineyard movement in Togo, with 80 associated churches. God often performs miracles in the midst of the nation's economic difficulties. In 2001, a 4–year–old boy was raised from the dead in one of Togo's Vineyard churches, with the result that over 150 people, predominantly Muslims, decided to follow Christ.
Source: Friday Fax 2004 Issue 10.
Other News and Headlines:
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We are looking for stories about what God is doing in the world, reports about the persecution of Christians, and information about significant trends and ministry opportunities. If you have a news item to report, please send an email to the Informer
- See other news to pray for and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below
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Thoughts to Ponder
"When we try to apply our religion to our relationship with God, it yields death and perversion."
– John Tisdale
"To suppose that there was no human being called Jesus and that the story is a fabrication requires flights of fancy far more perilous than in accepting him as real."
– Kenneth L. Woodward
"It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them—the character, the heart."
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his good works unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil [to the point that] he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God's."
– Martin Luther
Resources You Can Use
Online Resources: Photographs from Bible Lands to enhance your presentations
Looking for some pictures to use in your sermon or Sunday school lesson to make the places you describe come alive? Visit www.bibleplaces.com
and download some of the many free–to–use photographs or order a CD of high–resolution images.
BiblePlaces.com features photographs and descriptions of sites in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece with an emphasis on biblical archaeology, geography and history.
Be sure to read their copyright information to know what is permitted and how you can make use of their generous offer.
Online Sermon about the Passion of Jesus
Sovereign Grace Ministries has made a sermon series by C.J. Mahaney available on its website. http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/passion.html
From the Sovereign Grace newsletter:
The Passion of the Christ will undoubtedly serve many people by drawing their attention to the Savior. But because it does not clearly answer the all–important question of why Christ died, this film demands further explanation. C.J. Mahaney provides that explanation in this three–part series, "The Passion" More Than a Movie. The series serves a dual purpose: to equip Christians for evangelistic opportunities that the film may engender, and to explain the gospel to those who may have seen the film and would like to know more about the One who hung on that cross.
This series, entitled "The Passion: More Than a Movie," is adapted to address questions raised by the film based on Pastor C.J.'s series Christ and Him Crucified. These three messages, "The Cup", "The Cry", and "The Mediator," are now available for download.
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.
In order to complete this issue of the Pneuma Informer and have it sent to subscribers while it is still March, no excerpts from the Pneuma Review will be appearing in this issue.
- Pray for Burundi, Africa. Missionary Olivier Derain writes that in spite of the past turmoil in the nation, churches are growing and even prominent members of the government are being affected by the good news of Jesus. Although they wait to see real fruit among national leaders, already they "notice a change among a part of the leaders in Burundi, especially, from those who came back from exile." Pray for the political situation: "Elections will be held in a 6 months period. Please pray for Burundi in order that we'll not come back in a chaotic stage once again."
- Pray for believers in China: Apparently succumbing to international pressure, authorities recently released a prominent house church leader. According to China Aid Association (CAA), Xu "Deborah" Yongling, 58, was released last Monday and is under house arrest for an indefinite period of time. CAA said U.S. State Department officials raised her case to the Chinese government recently.
The leader of the "Born Again Movement" church, which has millions of members throughout the Asian nation, Yongling was asleep at the home of a church member in Nanyang, located in Henan Province, when police raided and detained her on Jan. 25. Yongling, the sister of prominent house–church leader Peter Xu Yongze, who now lives in the United States, has been arrested many times in the past, Voice of the Martyrs said.
Meanwhile, three Christians appeared in court a week ago for revealing details of China's crackdown on unsanctioned churches. Liu Fenngang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi have been charged with "providing intelligence to overseas organizations," CAA said.
The trio reportedly gave information to Chicago–based "Christian Life Quarterly" magazine, which authorities labeled an "evil cult." Fenggang is a church historian and house church leader pro–democracy campaigner. Yonghai is a psychiatrist and Shengqi is a computer technician. Police detained family members for three hours who tried to see them in court.
"This [is] another case of religious persecution with baseless charges," said CAA president Bob Fu, who hopes international pressure will cause the release of the three believers.
Source: Charisma News Service, 3/23/2004. Used with permission.
- Pray for believers in Indonesia: Muslim protestors recently attacked at least five churches. A crowd of approximately 100 people attacked the Gereja Protestan Indonesia congregation, a Dutch Reform church, in East Bekasi last month, Compass Direct reported.
Government officials had given permission to Christians to renovate an old house, which they had used as a church since 1975. However, leaders of the local mosque encouraged Muslims to protest against the renovations. On Jan. 12, church members met with local government and mosque officials, agreeing to suspend renovations temporarily.
Meanwhile, three other churches were attacked in Surubaya, East Java, in December and January. Muslim protestors forced the three churches in Surabaya to close their doors. The pastor of one of the churches received death threats from the attackers. Additionally, a bomb was placed in a church in Medan, North Sumatra, Compass reported.
Source: Charisma News Service, 2/12/03. Used with permission.
- Kim Joslin, wife of Pneuma Foundation editor Joe Joslin, was in a car accident on Monday, March 8. We thank God that she is unharmed, even though her car is totaled. Please pray for the Joslins as they find a new vehicle.
- Missionaries Dave and Debbie Johnson write that they are returning from their labors in the Philippines and are excited about what God has in store next. "Because you prayed and gave, we have been able to help plant 23 new churches this term through evangelistic outreaches where thousands have inquired about salvation, numerous Bible school students have received scholarships as we prepare the next generation of church leaders, the Bible school has had some wonderful renovations, congregations have been helped in putting up or repairing church buildings, the Full Life Study Bible has been translated into Tagalog (national language), and all sorts of other things that have happened to expand the Kingdom because of your partnership with us. It's no overstatement to say that we couldn't have done it without you!" Dave Johnson has written articles for the Pneuma Review.
- Pastor C. J. Halquist, long–time friend of the ministry and contributing editor of the Pneuma Review, reports: "I am feeling much better. I had some problems with my heart. Since they put the stint in, I feel like I have my energy back. One artery that is a predominant artery was blocked 95 to 99%. So it makes a big difference when you get blood and oxygen to that lower part of your heart. I praise the Lord that I am still cancer free." Please pray for Pastor Carl's wife, Sandy, who has not felt well this winter.
Please send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We have a great God who always meets our needs.
If you would like more information about how you may help in meeting these needs, please contact Member Services.
Mention of a ministry or organization in this publication does not mean that the Pneuma Foundation recommends that organization or its resources to you. Mention of an organization or its news or resources is for informational purposes only. Please exercise wisdom or caution before utilizing resources or otherwise receiving any assistance from an organization mentioned within this publication.