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   May 2004 Issue of the Pneuma Informer

The May 2004 Pneuma Informer

In this issue:

No April Pneuma Informer

There was no April 2004 issue of the Pneuma Informer. Due to a heavy schedule and unforeseen problems with email and web sites, the editorial committee chose to cancel the issue instead of sending it incomplete and late.

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Reports from Around the World

Nigeria: Who is king of the jujus?
Many Africans are animists, which means they worship spirits. They believe spirits live in animals, trees, rocks, buildings, and other places. Some animist leaders are magicians who are able to demonstrate supernatural powers attributed to evil spirits. In Nigeria, they call this juju.
National missionaries are actively demonstrating that the Holy Spirit of God is more powerful than the spirits in which juju followers believe. One town with a population of about 3,000 recently saw several Juju priests openly denounce their spirits and embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Their central hall, formerly used for juju worship, has been dedicated to Christ and now serves as a church building. Some 625 people from the community joined in praise and worship there recently.
Local Nigerian missionaries have been asked to set up a living church in this community and workers are now engaged in daily evangelization. They move from house to house, counseling residents and answering their questions, teaching scripture, and leading individuals and entire families to God. House–care fellowships are being formed. A town that was formerly known for its pagan practices is now an outpost of Christ's kingdom.
Source: http://www.christianaid.org/insider/insider-5-10.asp#2

USA: Soldiers becoming Christians
U.S. soldiers are reportedly becoming Christians during the deadliest period in Iraq since the war began more than a year ago. A recent article, featuring the headline "Marines Find Faith Amid the Fire," The Los Angeles Times reported that four soldiers asked a Protestant chaplain to arrange a battlefield baptism last Wednesday in the courtyard of a bullet–riddled school that they used in their fight with insurgents in Fallujah.
"I've been talking to God a lot during the last two firefights," Lance Cpl. Chris Hankins, 19, said. "I decided to start my life over and make it better."
Sgt. Andrew Jones, 25, said he had been considering getting baptized before he left for Iraq, but his combat experiences convinced him that the time was right. "With everything that has happened here, all the good friends I've lost, I thought it was a good place to be reborn," Jones said.
Two Marines died and several were injured in the same courtyard when a mortar round landed among their group April 12. On April 26, another Marine was killed and 15 were wounded in Fallujah.
During the baptism two dozen Marines stood quietly, the LA Times reported. Battlefield baptisms are not unusual among front–line troops, said Navy Lt. Scott Radetski, the chaplain who performed the baptisms.
So many service personnel in Iraq request to be baptized that the military even has a two–page sheet on how to create a battlefield baptismal font, called the Field Immersion Baptismal Liner Instructions.
Radetski said he performed one ceremony in Kuwait when Marines were waiting to move into Iraq. Three Marines at another encampment in Fallujah also have asked to be baptized. "When chaos shows its head," Radetski said, "we need an anchor for our faith. You need that rock that God promises to be."
Since March 19, 2003, more than 725 soldiers have been killed and 4,151 wounded, the Associated Press reported (as of 5/4/2004 report). Combat operations have resulted in at least 509 deaths. Last month resulted in the largest number of monthly deaths with more than 110. Most of the combat has centered near Fallujah and Najaf.
In a special report by Chaplain James F. Linzey, he writes that: "Approximately 20% of US military personnel—Army, Air Force, and Navy—are now Pentecostal or Charismatic. Iraqis come to the fences of the US military compounds in the dead of night quietly begging for Bibles. US military personnel, though forbidden to give them anything, throw New Testaments over the fence, as the US personnel are the only sources of scripture for many Iraqis."
Source: CharismaNOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9003 Used with permission. Email from James F. Linzey, D.D., Chaplain (MAJOR), USA, President, Operation Freedom

China: fulfilling the Great Commission
Napoleon once said, "When China is moved it will change the face of the globe." In this generation, that may indeed take place.
A vision for spreading the good news of Jesus has captivated millions of Christians in China. House church leaders are already beginning to send a 100,000 strong "tithe" of their estimated 1 million full–time pastors and evangelists into foreign mission work. Expecting to face persecution, including martyrdom, evangelists and Christian workers are looking to go where Western Christians seldom can—across the borders of China into the Islamic and Buddhist world.
In a recent interview with Paul Hattaway, author of Back to Jerusalem: Called to Complete the Great Commission, he says that the humility, love, and tenacity of these Christians is real and can be seen in how they live. "There are hundreds of pastors in prison today. Yet they don't see it as a satanic attack when they are tortured and put into prison. They see it as God's training ground, and God's furnace of affliction to purify them so they can be effective witnesses. The Chinese are in a position to send workers who have been through the furnace for so long that they're willing literally to die for the gospel."
Asked if Chinese church leaders see miracles as central to their witness, Hattaway responded: "They don't see miracles as essential to their work; they see them as a natural reaction to preaching the gospel. Even in the house churches, there are many different groups and beliefs. But generally speaking, the Chinese don't focus on miracles at all. They focus on proclaiming the gospel to the lost. And when they proclaim the gospel to the lost, they find the Lord backing up his word with miracles frequently.
"They believe that miracles are not for inside the church but for those who lack faith out on the street. One brother is often challenged with the question, 'Why don't we see miracles in the West like you do in China?' These days he's come to ask, 'Are you really proclaiming the gospel for the lost humanity of the world?'"
For more information, visit: www.backtojerusalem.com
Source: "A Captivating Vision" Christianity Today (Apr 2004), p. 84–86.

USA: African Churches "Reshape Worship" in New York City
More than 100 African churches, many of them Pentecostal, have spread across New York City, where pastors preach the gospel in languages such as Ibo, Twi and Ga. According to a report last weekend by The New York Times, "an explosion of African immigrant churches in the past 15 years has helped reshape religious worship in the city."
"The surge is creating oases of Christian faith for newcomers from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Ethiopia and other countries and fueling an evangelical movement long the province of Latinos and African–Americans," the newspaper observed.
Tony Carnes, a sociologist of religion and a co–editor of "New York Glory: Religions in the City," said: "They're having an impact beyond the African church. The African churches are bringing new vitality and new ways of doing things to African–American and other churches."
Denominations have been multiplying. Founded in Benin but with a largely Nigerian membership, the Celestial Church of Christ lists 12 New York City branches on its Web site. Its roots planted by Swiss missionaries 175 years ago, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana has congregations in Harlem and Brooklyn.
But the most rapid expansion has come from Pentecostal and evangelical Christianity, which has surged in Africa and other parts of the developing world. For example, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (http://www.rccg.org), a global Pentecostal movement based in Nigeria, came to New York City in 1995 and now has 14 branches, said Nimi Wariboko, pastor of a congregation in Brooklyn.
The African churches, though, are trying to reach beyond ethnic borders. "We also need to attract much more of the Americans," said Albert Amoah, an apostle and leader of the Church of the Pentecost in the United States, The New York Times reported. "The church is universal. The kingdom is transcultural, transethnic."
Source: CharismaNOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=8930 Used with permission.

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  • See other news to pray and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below

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Thoughts to Ponder

"Your worthiness gives you no help, and your unworthiness does not harm you. As one drop of water is as compared to the great ocean, so are my sins as compared with God's incomprehensible grace in Christ."
– Johann Arndt, in True Christianity
"When you go around in silence, when you pray, ask yourself: 'Is there in my experience a living God, as concrete, as real as my friends, my relatives, some–one and not some–thing, not a power but a real person?' The word 'God' comes from an ancient gothic word that means 'One before whom one falls in adoration.' That is the primeval experience of human kind about God; it is not someone about whom one has heard. The first people who spoke of God spoke of a presence, a reality that at a certain moment had overwhelmed them by its glory, its splendor, its concreteness."
– Anthony Bloom
"Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."
– Martin Luther King Jr., in Why We Can't Wait
"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls"
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton from www.ocean.org
"We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer."
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"We can condemn the world and hope God gets us out of here before it burns, or we can take the more dangerous route and stick it out here and learn to love sinners—seeing in them our own forgivability and loving them unconditionally, the way we are loved by God through Christ."
– John Fischer, in Fearless Faith

Excerpts from the Spring 2004 issue of 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.

From "The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Effects" By J. Rodman Williams, Part 1 of 2.

Read the full article in the Spring 2004 issue of the Pneuma Review: http://pneumareview.com/rodman-williams-the-gift-of-the-holy-spirit-today-effects-part-1.

From "Rightly Understanding God's Word: Whole Book Context." Part 2 of 2 by Craig S. Keener

8. The Spirit–baptized life in Mk 1:8–13

The Gospel of Mark explicitly mentions God's Spirit only six times, but half of them appear in his introduction (1:8–13), where he introduces several of his central themes for his audience. His other uses emphasize the Spirit's work in empowering Jesus for exorcism (Mk 3:29–30), Old Testament prophets to speak God's message (12:26) or Jesus' witnesses to speak his message (13:11).

In the introduction, John the Baptist announces the mighty one who will baptize others in the Holy Spirit (1:8); this Spirit–baptizer is Jesus of Nazareth. Immediately after this announcement, we see Jesus baptized and the Spirit coming on him (1:9–10). The Spirit–baptizer thus gives us a model of what the Spirit–baptized life will look like, for he himself receives the Spirit first. That is why what the Spirit does next appears all the more stunning: the Spirit thrusts Jesus into the wilderness for conflict with the devil (1:12–13). The Spirit–filled life is not a life of ease and comfort, but of conflict with the devil's forces!

The rest of the Gospel of Mark continues this pattern. Shortly after Jesus emerges from the wilderness, he must confront an evil spirit in a religious gathering (1:21–27). Throughout the rest of the Gospel, Jesus continues to defeat the devil by healing the sick and driving out demons (cf. 3:27), while the devil continues to strike at Jesus through the devil's religious and political agents. In the end, the devil manages to get Jesus killed—but Jesus triumphs by rising from the dead.

In the same way, Jesus expects his disciples to heal the sick and drive out demons (3:14–15; 4:40; 6:13; 9:19, 28–29; 11:22–24), and also to join him in suffering (8:34–38; 10:29–31, 38–40; 13:9–13). His disciples seemed happier to share his triumphs than his sufferings, but the Gospel of Mark emphasizes that we cannot share his glory without also sharing his suffering. That lesson remains as relevant for modern disciples as for ancient ones!

. . .

  • Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2004 issue of the Pneuma Review.

Periodical Review:

"Practicing What We Preach" Jack W. Hayford. Ministries Today (Nov/Dec 2003), pages 22–27.

Read this review in the Spring 2004 issue of the Pneuma Review: http://pneumareview.com/jack-hayford-practicing-what-we-preach.

Reviewed by Mike Dies

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for believers in Indonesia: A resurgence of violence has erupted again after a lull of so–called peace in Indonesia's Maluku islands. Already 30 people have been killed in this outbreak of religious violence, and Muslim extremists are calling for thousands of "Islamic warriors" to take this war to the next stage.
    Source: Christianity Today Online http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/117/21.0.html
  • Please pray for the volunteer webteam as they work through many obstacles and challenges to resolve and improve email services and how web site content is managed. These changes are occurring as they transition to new web servers. These efforts have a major impact on how visitors will interact with the Pneuma Foundation web site in the months and years to come. Please pray that projects to allow assistant web designers to be able to update and test directly on the server will be completed soon.
  • Iris Ministries, in Tanzania, has asked for prayer for the provision of land for a church building, resources to reach where the good news of Jesus has not yet gone, and projects that are assisting HIV orphans and disadvantaged children.
  • Richard Twiss, of Wiconi International, requests prayer for an upcoming ministry trip to Cairo, Egypt. "As we go in the grace, beauty and anointing of our cultural identity as a First Nations representation of Christ and the Kingdom, please pray for grace, protection and peace for our team." www.wiconi.com

Praise Reports:

  • Missionaries Dave and Debbie Johnson report they are coming home: "Debbie and I are in a time of transition. The Ganap Na Buhay Biblia (Full Life Study Bible in Tagalog) is long finished and will soon be available to our pastors. My doctoral dissertation is done. So is my term as country moderator for the Assemblies of God Missionary Fellowship here in the Philippines. Debbie has also completed her first year as president of Evangel Bible College. The evangelistic team is ready to carry on in our absence with supervision by long distance. Its time to pack our bags, store our household items, relinquish our house, hug our friends, and come home for deputation. And so we are. We arrive in America on April 13th and will base in Grand Rapids, Michigan." Dave Johnson has written articles published in the Pneuma Review.
  • Kelly Knowles, wife of Pneuma Review writer Mike Knowles, is home from the hospital after near–fatal complications after a knee surgery. Please pray for her recovery and regaining of strength after the coma and infection she endured. Praise God for healing, we rejoice that she is getting back to normal.

  • 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.