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Author Topic: The fearless evangelist  (Read 4656 times)

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patrick jane

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #52 on: December 08, 2020, 08:23:55 am »


Why I Claim the ‘Global Evangelical’ Label

My church identity is tied to the body of Christ abroad.

The bishop who ordained me was ordained by African bishops. My priesthood is a gift granted by the global body of Christ. As a result, the rise of the church in the Global South has never felt like a distant sociological fact. It is personal and vital to my work. I identify more with believers who speak other languages, have different skin colors, and live on the other side of the planet than with fellow white Americans who live on my block.

This is a miracle—an ongoing act of grace that would have been unthinkable before the coming of Christ. Jesus made a new family whose kinship trumps cultural, national, and biological ties. But though miraculous, this extended family affects my ordinary day—the way I pray, worship, vote, and think about my neighbors, my church, myself, and the world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and North America, with only 20 percent in the non-Western world. Now it’s almost the reverse. Two-thirds of the world’s Christians live in the Global South. This reversal is due not so much to the decline of faith in the West but to the explosive growth of the church in the rest of the world. I see this in my own Anglican Communion, which wanes in wealthy Western nations and blossoms in the Global South.

This reality offers me hope. The vanguard of the Christian movement is not on American shores. North American culture, then, does not determine the future of the church. Western secularization, or even the marginalization of Christianity in the West, has about as much power to limit the flourishing of the church as it has to stop a hurrican or change the seasons. The indigenous growth and revival in global Christianity—which would have been unimaginable merely 100 years ago—reminds us that we need not be afraid. God is relentlessly at work in the world.

This global growth also shapes my perspective on how we talk about the church. When my community of primarily educated urbanites criticizes “the church,” we most often mean the American church or even merely the white American church. Given our context, this oversimplification makes sense, but it also subtly centers white American voices and experiences.

Similarly, when younger evangelicals leave “the church” because they are frustrated with certain Western iterations of it, they simultaneously leave behind a global body of largely black and brown people. These global evangelicals often hold together what many white American evangelicals too easily pry apart: a shared commitment to orthodox doctrine and care for the poor and oppressed.

When I think of evangelicals, I think of Singaporeans planting churches in Thailand, or Rwandan families serving refugees in Uganda, or Nigerian seminarians, or the evangélicos of South America—a label widely used by Protestant Latinos. We need to keep these voices front and center in any discussion of the church. They are our future and also our present—the ones who make up the majority of evangelicals on earth.

These global believers also remind me not to give up on the American church. A few years ago, I caught myself thinking, “The American church is dying and probably deserves it, so let’s focus exclusively on what’s happening elsewhere.” I gave us up for lost. But then I was reminded by my brothers and sisters overseas that many of these now-blossoming movements abroad began small. Men and women suffered joyfully for the gospel. They continue to do so. Amid suffering and even persecution, their impulse is to take up the mission of Jesus and love their neighbors. We are called to do the same wherever we are.

During the season of Epiphany, many Anglican churches use the Kenyan liturgy, and each year it reminds me that the church—and even evangelicalism alone—is bigger and more complex than my limited context. Right before we take the Eucharist, the celebrant says, “Christ is alive forever.” The congregation responds, “We are because he is.” Because Christ is alive, we the global church can flourish together as a new family. I am a disciple of Jesus, an evangelical Anglican, and a priest in Christ’s church because we are a global body. And we are because he is.

Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night (IVP, 2021).

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #53 on: December 11, 2020, 10:13:01 am »


I Grew Up a Fervent Evangelist for Islam. Now I’m Living Out the Book of Acts.

How an encounter with Christian missionaries made me into a missionary myself.

I grew up in a Muslim family on the coast of Kenya. My father served as an Imam, and I was one of the muezzins (Muslims who call others to pray five times a day) at a local mosque.

The only school I ever attended existed to educate young men in the ways of Islam and to help them grow as Muslims. I was being trained to defend the Muslim faith and to share it with others. As a young man, I became one of the best and most well-known evangelists for Islam in my region.

Early in life, my father had taught me to hate Christians and even to beat them if necessary. I was trained to believe that Christians were on the same level as animals. We were not allowed to associate with them in any way.

A Miraculous Transformation

In 2009, my life was forever changed. The day started out just like any other: I woke up and went to the local mosque to start calling people to pray. I was set to recite the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) into the microphone so that my call could be heard throughout the city. But when I tried to speak, nothing came out. Leaving the mosque, I saw my friend Ali in the street and I tried to explain what had happened, but he wouldn’t believe me.

We went back to the mosque, where I stepped up to the microphone and attempted to call the adhan once more, but again my voice would not come out. Ali was as surprised as I was. We both were nervous, but he took over my duties so that I could go home for the day.

When I got home, I tried to relax and calm my mind. My heart was heavy, and I felt troubled. I went to my kitchen, grabbed a thermos, and started to make hot tea. I poured the tea into a mug and was about to start drinking when I saw that the tea had turned red, a dark red that looked like blood. I left the tea on the counter and took a walk, hoping to clear my mind after a day full of seemingly crazy events.

During my walk, I came to a marketplace where a large crowd had gathered around the back of a pickup truck. Getting close enough to hear and see what was going on, I listened as a Christian missionary was preaching. He was clearly a Kenyan, just like me, and not someone who had come here from the Western world. I was skeptical and kept my distance, but I listened to what he was saying.

After the man had finished preaching, I felt compelled to approach him. Because I was known very well in that area, the pastors who were with him (they were also Kenyan) initially blocked me from coming forward, but the missionary allowed me to talk with him. He shared the gospel with me, and right then and there everything felt different. I saw everything that had happened during that day in a new light. I knew that God was the one who wouldn’t let my voice come out; he was the one who turned my tea blood red, as a symbol of Christ’s blood spilled on the cross for me.

The Holy Spirit changed my heart, and I gave my life to Jesus. The missionary told me to go tell my family what had happened, and I did as he requested, even though I knew my father would not like it. Sure enough, he saw my conversion as an abandonment of Islam and an act of personal betrayal. He called my uncle, a well-respected leader in the Muslim community, to ask for advice on how to handle this crisis. My uncle recommended having me excommunicated. But my father was in no mood for half-measures: He wanted me dead. He ordered me to get out of the house right away, and I wasn’t even allowed a moment to gather my belongings.

After my father had left the house, I returned and saw my sister. She told me that my father had burned all of my belongings behind our house. She had been washing clothes at the time, and she gave me one set to take with me.

That night I ran away, staying outside on a park bench. It was a cold night, and I considered returning to my father and apologizing. But as I prayed, I found new strength in Jesus Christ. The next day, I went out and started sharing my testimony, explaining what Jesus had done for me and how others could receive him as well.

I found the missionary who had shared the gospel with me, figuring I would stay the night with him and his fellow pastors before leaving the next morning. But soon we heard that my father had sent people out looking for me, people who would kill me if they found me. So that night, around 3 a.m., the group of missionaries escorted me out of my hometown.

They brought me to a city eight hours away. A longtime member of a local church took an interest in me and started to disciple me. Another member even allowed me to stay in his home since I had no place to live.

The more I got settled in this strange new place, the more I felt a call to ministry. I started sharing the gospel to lost people in the area, gathering a group of about 10 people in the area to disciple as I had been discipled.

I hoped to attend a Bible school, so that I could become a better preacher and teacher of the gospel, but I did not have the money to pay for it. So I started traveling around and visiting different churches and congregations, where I had the opportunity to preach, teach, and share the story of my conversion.

Yet danger kept stalking me. After visiting one church in the region for five days, preaching and sharing the gospel, I learned that some men had come there looking for me. They had been sent by my parents. In the mosque where I grew up, an announcement had gone out that I was wanted, dead or alive.

Counting the Cost
Over the years, I’ve continued to travel and visit different churches under the support of the national missionary organization that aided me at the time of my conversion. In April of 2017, I took a new step of boldness. Alongside one of my own disciples, I journeyed to a city close to the border of Somalia, where the population consists mostly of Somalis who were members of my own ethnic group. I had ventured there to do what God had put in my heart so many years ago: sharing Christ with Muslims in my homeland.

We had planned out a four-day trip. On the first day, as I started to preach and share the gospel, a crowd gathered. As I continued evangelizing, the crowd became angry, and a few people complained to the police that I was causing trouble.

The police arrested me and took me to jail. I was punched and kicked by other cellmates and by the corrupt police officers. I learned that the man I had been discipling had left to return home. But I continued to share Christ, and 10 Somalis came to know Jesus as Lord in jail. On the fourth day, I was released, and I walked straight from the jail to the market where I had preached the gospel. Seven Muslims prayed to receive Christ that day.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells the crowds that anyone who would follow him must be prepared to leave everything behind for the sake of carrying a cross (Luke 14:26–27). Since becoming a Christian, I’ve had many occasions to count the cost of discipleship. On top of having to flee from my home and family, I was forced to part ways with the Muslim woman I was set to marry (though God later saw fit to provide me a wife at one of the churches I visited). On several occasions, people from the cities I’ve evangelized have shown up at my home in the middle of the night to threaten me and my family. I have been beaten by crowds five different times.

And yet, when I think of even the worst suffering—of all the slaps, punches, and kicks I’ve endured—I still “count it all joy” (James 1:2, ESV). I’ll gladly surrender everything for the cause of Christ and to reach my Muslim brothers who are blind.

Aaban Usman (a pseudonym) works as a national missionary through Reaching Souls International, an organization based in Oklahoma City. Koal Manis is a freelance writer and a student at Oklahoma Baptist University.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #54 on: December 15, 2020, 11:01:28 am »


China’s Greatest Evangelist Was Expelled from a Liberal Seminary in America

How John Song sought new beginnings—for himself and his homeland—after a period of disgrace.

The story of John Song is fairly well-known within the history of Chinese Christianity. In 1920, he left China to study chemistry in the United States, completing a bachelor’s degree in three years and a master’s degree and a doctorate in another three years. He then turned to theology and enrolled in America’s leading institution of liberal Christianity, Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He had an evangelical conversion experience—but seminary authorities thought he was mad and sent him to an asylum. After his release in 1927, Song boarded a ship headed back to China and committed his life to preaching the gospel message.

But there is another side to the story, one fleshed out in a new biography from Boston University global Christianity scholar Daryl R. Ireland. John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man presents a brilliant student living with schizophrenia—one who saw visions, spoke as a prophet of a new age, and decoded divine messages in New York Times crossword puzzles and through “radio schematics” in the four Gospels. At one point, he supposedly fell in love with a supernatural being and married her in the presence of 7,000 honorary queens.

Ireland’s access to previously un-available materials—Song’s student files at Union and some 6,000 pages of personal diaries—enables him to paint a very complex picture. From this basis, Ireland argues that the seemingly divergent accounts of Song’s American background converge into one: the making of China’s greatest evangelist. They are the origin stories of a new man.

When Song returned to China, he was disgraced by his expulsion from Union and his hospitalization for mental instability. Things changed when he met the fundamentalist Methodist Episcopal missionary W. B. Cole. According to Ireland, Cole saw in Song an opportunity to condemn Union for its modernist theology, while Song saw in Cole an opportunity to reinvent himself. Together, they crafted a new account of Song’s troubled past: As Ireland sums it up, “Song had encountered the God made known in Jesus Christ at Union Theological Seminary, and he was rejected because of it.”

This new beginning was key to Song’s revivalist message going forward, just as new beginnings were key for China in the 1920s–1940s, when reformers hoped to escape the country’s feudal past in pursuit of new culture, new life, and a new China.

Song was now a new man—in terms of evangelicalism and modernizing China. For instance, the Nationalist government tried to purify religion by launching the Smashing Superstition Movement in 1928. That same year, Song began his career as a traveling evangelist for the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he preached a message that Ireland describes as being “tested by spiritual life and science.” With a PhD in chemistry, he had the credentials to defend faith as something more than a superstition that science was smashing.

Song renewed himself time and time again. Initially, when he preached in rural villages, his sermons focused on how the supernatural world penetrated the natural world. After 1931, when Song joined the Bethel Worldwide Evangelistic Band to tour around China’s urban centers, his preaching transformed into a new expression of Holiness revivalism. When his relationship with Bethel ended in 1933, Song again rewrote his sermons to address sectors of society that he had not previously encountered.

Two of Ireland’s final chapters address important themes of early-20th-century China. The first highlights how Song’s preaching was particularly appealing to women. Men and women needed more than just to be saved—Song called them to organize their own evangelistic teams. Vast numbers of women took up this call. Song was offering an alternative to Confucian gender roles and to the secular-feminist vision developing in China at the time.

Likewise, the final chapter covers Song’s divine healing ministry, which offered an alternative to both traditional Chinese medicine and Western biomedicine. In the end, Song’s healing hands were unable to heal himself, and he died in 1944 after years of dealing with an anal fistula.

Ireland advances a theory about Song’s reinvention as part of a larger story of Chinese Christianity’s 20th-century development. Even more, he teases out how Song and Chinese Christianity offered an alternative to the path of exchanging a feudal past for a modern future. This new man and this new religion profoundly influenced the making of a new China.

Alexander Chow is senior lecturer in theology and world Christianity in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. He is author of two books, most recently Chinese Public Theology: Generational Shifts and Confucian Imagination in Chinese Christianity.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #55 on: December 17, 2020, 11:31:25 am »


A Welcomed Example of Pushback

Vietnamese Evangelicals provide a story of hope even in a deeply divided country.

One indisputable feature of Evangelicals is that we don’t always get along. All sorts of factors play into our lives; our hometowns, family history and schooling influence how we think, feel and vote. In our human brokenness, disunity is often a factor that plays into all we are and what we do.

So, how then do we live as Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, “May they be one even as we are one”? We know that believing in and following Jesus does not create sameness. For example, in Canada I have Evangelical friends who favour a wide range of political ideals: separatism, socialism, conservatism, liberalism, environmentalism.

In today’s world where conflicting views are the chatter of newscasts, let me point you to a country and its people who, though living in division, chose recently to come together.

A great example from an unlikely place

Vietnam is a classic example of a divided country. It has endured civil and national wars, been fragmented by tribalism, dealt with conflicting economic theories, and juggled a multiplicity of languages. Even its history defines the country as politically split between the north and the south. Some months ago, when I traveled from the northern part of Vietnam to the southern end and back again, I was reminded of its pockets of resistance, its variety of tribes and local ethnic animosities. These demographics don’t cease to exist just because faith is introduced.

Yet here in Vietnam, Evangelicals, though facing headwinds of opposition within their own communities, chose a few weeks ago to buck the trend of division. Instead, they committed to praying and working towards a more unified Christian voice, so as to establish a stronger public presence in the country.

Wars with France and the United States marked this land in our memories. Though Vietnam is currently ruled by a Communist party, more than half of its 90 million people are Buddhist and 10% are Christian (mostly Roman Catholic). Evangelicals, who represent 2% of the population, have been active here for a century. At times they have struggled or even faced persecution, but the church has thrived. In the early 1900s, the Christian and Missionary Alliance started Bible translation work and planted churches. Since then, the small band of Christians has grown despite the wars of the 20th century and the advent of communism.

On November 28–29, 2020, at a meeting in Cam Ranh Bay, the Vietnam Evangelical Alliance (VEA) was formally launched, with Rev. Ho Tan Khoa appointed president. (He serves as general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Vietnam.)

National alliances like the VEA, members of the World Evangelical Alliance, are part of the worldwide phenomenon that started when the WEA was formed in 1846. The main motivation for creating the WEA was a desire for unity and fellowship. In those post–William Wilberforce days of the early 19th century, issues of slavery, child labour and religious freedom were matters of great concern. Even so, the core attraction for Protestant leaders to join together was a passion for unity. In a world of numerous denominations and the hostilities such barriers can produce, those who met chose to resist the status quo of division and create a means by which Evangelicals could meet in fellowship and harmony. Today there are 9 Regional and 135 National Evangelical Alliances, all born out of a similar desire for unity—evidence, we believe, that Jesus’ impulse in John 17 still reverberates among his people today.

It takes determination

Making the VEA a reality hasn’t been a task for the faint of heart. Those who helped to make it happen know how deeply the spirit of division pervades Vietnam. Too much of its history was characterized by internal strife and external invasion. Overcoming disunity required boldness, humility and collegial strength.

For years, Vietnamese church leaders prayed and worked together. But even while they were working to make fuller unity possible, during this past year the historic Evangelical church in Hanoi was torn by unimaginable internal disputes. Furthermore, the largest Evangelical denomination in Vietnam, the Evangelical Church of Vietnam–South (ECVN-South), has chosen to stay out of the VEA. The ECVN-South has declined to acknowledge the legitimacy of many house churches born in Vietnam’s 1988 revival, and those deeply held feelings about the house churches still stand in the way of cooperation.

Even though Vietnam’s largest denomination decided not to join, the current VEA leadership was not deterred from moving forward. In all, 33 denominations and two ministries felt it was the right time to declare their unity and fellowship in Christ. (See the list below.)

In the past 60 years, the global Evangelical community has exploded, from about 90 million people in 1960 to over 650 million today. Evangelism is rooted in our very name. We love to tell the good news of the Evangel: God has come, and he lives among us.

Now it’s time that we visibly make him king among us by setting aside those differences that should not divide us. Our brothers and sisters in Vietnam are telling us that it matters. They are also pointing the way.

Members of the newly formed Vietnam Evangelical Alliance

Churches: United Presbyterian Church, Christian Fellowship Church, Methodist Church, Agape Church, Pentecostal Church, United Gospel Outreach Church, United Baptist Church, Evangelical Church (North), Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, Word of Life Christian Church, Christian Mission, Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church, Baptist Evangelistic League, Full Gospel Church, Inter Evangelistic Movement, Foursquare Full Gospel Church, Evangelical Mennonite Church, Christian Life Churches, Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Holiness Church, Missionary Church of Christ, Evangelical Canaan Church, Lutheran Church, Full Gospel Church, Mennonite Church, Missionary Baptist Church, Gospel of Peace Church, Pentecostal Assemblies, Church of God, United Methodist Church, Christ’s Commission Church. Parachurch ministries: Campus Crusade for Christ, Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International. (Note: most churches include “Vietnam” in their name.)

Brian Stiller is global ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest network of Evangelicals worldwide. Prior to this appointment he served as president of Tyndale University (Toronto).

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #56 on: December 19, 2020, 07:24:52 am »


Compassionate Evangelism: Being A Daily Witness for Christ

As Christians, we are called to testify with compassion every day.

As followers of Jesus, we come together in His name and worship Him because He alone is worthy of worship. We believe God has rescued us from darkness and brought us in to the marvelous light of His love. He is worthy of worship because of what He has done for us.

His message is simple, by surrendering to Jesus, (not a religion) confessing and repenting of our sin, accepting His sacrifice of shed blood on the cross, and trusting in Him alone for salvation, we become a Child of God and are given eternal life. We should then want to become more like Him and seek a life of holiness and obedience that is pleasing to Him. He is worthy of worship and we should long for others to know Him. He suffered and shed His blood on a cross to take on the sin of the world and the punishment we deserved. This great news is worthy of sharing with every person on earth, and is what God intends for us:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
We are Ambassadors and Witnesses

I remember being in the Ivory Coast and preaching on 2 Corinthians 5. In verse 20 it says … “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us;”

My interpreter, a young 20-year-old, fluent in French and English was so excited as I finished and said to me “I just realized that I am an Ambassador for Jesus! Wow, I am so excited.” Since that day he has not stopped sharing about how Jesus rescued him and gave him a new life.

We are all ambassadors for the Lord, and it is His plan for completing the work on earth so all may hear and know of God’s love. Why do we find it so hard to be a witness for Jesus with our words?

In Acts 1:8 “witness” in Greek is “martyr”— one who saw something and told others about it. The meaning of the word changed over time from someone who saw and told, to someone who gave his life for the cause he believed in. This happened because so many of the disciples lost their lives when telling what they saw when Jesus was with them.

What is a witness?
If you were called as a witness in a courtroom, they would expect 3 things of you.

You would need to be of good character.
You need to have seen or experienced something.
You must speak of what you have seen and heard.
As believers we have another characteristic.

We are filled with the Holy Spirit and are given power to speak the word boldly! Acts 4:31
God has called us to be witnesses. God has not called us to be lawyers, prosecuting attorneys, or judges. A witness tells the truth about what he knows, and what he’s seen. God has not called us to persuade, force, coerce, or manipulate anybody into the Kingdom of God. He called us to witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving power and to leave the results to Him.

The problem:

97% of Christians will never share the plan of salvation with one unbeliever.
90% of unbelievers will NEVER come to church.
75% are willing to LISTEN to a Christian talk about their faith.
Reasons we don’t talk to the lost:

We don’t know what to say – It’s hard to start conversations with unbelievers, whether they are strangers or friends.
Fear of rejection – No one wants to be rejected or have a confrontation, so our fear paralyzes us.
Lack of Christ’s compassion – we don’t truly care enough.
Satan doesn’t want the good news spread.
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38 (emphasis added)

If our fears are greater than our compassion, our fears win!

But if our compassion is greater than our fears, compassion wins!

Which is greater in your life… fear or compassion?

Being a witness involves seeking opportunities to share your story and ask questions of others so you can share who Jesus is.

Have gospel tracts or short booklets on the gospel available. Learn how to share your brief one-minute faith story, your testimony.

Make it your mission to pray for lost people and as the Lord opens doors of opportunities.

There are many ways to witness about Christ. The important thing is to do it in all situations.

There is a story about the famous preacher DL Moody. (February 5, 1837 - December 22, 1899) Founder of Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute. A woman confronted him after a message and said, “I don’t like how you share the gospel” to which Dr. Moody replied, ”Well, sometimes I am uncomfortable with it as well, how do you share it?” to which she replied, “I don’t.” Moody then said, “Well Ma’am, I like how I share the gospel better than how you don’t share it!”

How can you share the gospel story?

Alan Greene is an evangelist, author, and Director of Collaborative Events for Global Network of Evangelists (GNE)—A ministry of Luis Palau Evangelistic Association.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #57 on: January 20, 2021, 08:42:36 am »


Redeeming the Godly Work of Proselytization

Evangelism is a moral good and a key expression of our faith.

Before all-things streaming, when television was simpler and there were only 3 options at a time (at best), one of my favorite shows was the original ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ with Monty Hall. The game show concept is simple: offer audience members prizes over and over again to entice them to keep choosing to risk what they have in hopes of something even better. The catch is that at any moment, the prize that they’ve already won can be lost to something with little to laughable value, like a goat or a bag of rocks. The game show has also spawned a philosophic and mathematical problem known as the ‘Monty Hall Paradox.’ The Paradox has to do with how to pick the one of three doors most likely to have, say, a car instead of the goat.

The host of the show has the knowledge that the contestant does not. There are no probabilities to calculate for him. He alone knows where the car, the blender, and the goat are always. I’ve watched the show enough to know that the host also WANTS the contestant to get the good prize, the car and not the goat. Regardless, the contestant must choose, and they must choose blindly, regardless of what statistical methods we could possibly employ through the Monty Hall Paradox.

In a few ways, there are some striking similarities to this scenario when it comes to God’s plans and desires for us. If we can liken God to the host of the show, He wants us to have the very best prize. He knows what is behind each door or path. Unlike this scenario, however, God is not tempting us to gamble our good things with worthless things. He is not taking away our prizes with laughable alternatives. Most importantly, He is not withholding his knowledge when it comes to what’s behind door #1, #2, or #3-that knowledge is made available to us all. So why do so many people still choose the goat over the car?

Let’s make a deal is not just a clever title for an award-winning game show, it is also God’s invitation to us. God offers us the deal of peace, hope, and love through ‘togethering,’ or the deep companionship that comes from knowing Him personally. All the deals God gives are good and the only bad deal is to not take any of His good gifts at all-to reject Him and all He offers.

When we think of examples of moral good, we think of things like physicians doing all they can to heal children from cancer, law enforcement arresting human traffickers, or local non-profits providing food and shelter for the homeless. These are, in fact, deep and abiding expressions of moral goodness.

Philosopher, Immanuel Kant, gives us several contours of ‘moral goodness’ in his seminal work, Critique of Pure Reason. He says moral goodness is objectively good, not based on opinion, that is to say it is not contingent but is intrinsically good by itself; moral goodness expresses higher ideals of values that are transcendent, ideals that are not contained by this world, and; moral goodness is by itself good, meaning that it is not some means to an end. Kant says lots of things, but the point here is that moral goodness expresses the very highest ideals that cannot be contained by opinion or the changing winds of the world around us.

While the word ‘proselytization’ is seen is as the exact opposite of moral goodness, I believe it is itself one of the very best expressions of moral goodness. Historically, proselytization, in its worst expressions, has entailed coercion, manipulation, and trickery. As an expression of moral goodness, however, proselytization invites discussion and engagement, is expressed out of a motivation of love and concern, and has as its aim deep attitudinal, emotional and volitional change.

We refer to this change as conversion. Words like conversion and proselytization are not merely antiquated, but they are seen as expressions of power, of colonization, and control. This is to be expected when much of religious evangelism has been done through a proselytization that is not a moral good. If, however, there really are ontologically fixed realities behind the doors of life and we don’t have to guess what they are, then there seems to be a moral obligation to help others make the right and good decisions about life.

For Christians, we call this ‘help’ evangelism. Evangelism is the Christian expression of proselytization. Christian evangelism is core to what it means to be a faithful adherent to the faith. So important is evangelism to the Christian that one could argue that a Christian who does not evangelize is not living out a full or authentic Christian faith. The primary reason for this goes back to the concept of moral goodness.

If the Christian truly believes that she has real knowledge about what is behind the three conceptual doors and does not help others to know that same knowledge, she has not merely failed to express moral goodness but rather is complicit in the demise that comes from choosing in ignorance things that have grave consequences for life and the afterlife. Evangelism for the Christian is both a moral duty and an expression of devotion born out of a relationship of love with God and, by extension, love of others whom God also loves.

Evangelism is the highest expression of moral goodness. That is not to say that there aren’t other moral goods. Remember a moral good stands on its own as ontologically good. We do not serve the homeless in order to proselytize. This practice is exactly what has desecrated Christian evangelism. No, we serve the homeless because it is an end in itself, a moral good that cannot be diminished by doing it by itself and for itself. Having said this, however, evangelism is simply the very highest expression of moral goodness because it deals with consummate or eschatological realities bearing upon the eternal soul of all. One can cloth the naked, feed the hungry, free the slave but eventually, these same people who are made in the image of God, without being converted will all suffer a much worse fate than cold, hunger, enslavement and the like-they will suffer eternal separation from God in a place of suffering. This is at least the conviction of Bible-believing Christians, so we evangelize, in part, because it is an expression of moral goodness based on the concern for the eternal state of people.

Unfortunately, even among Christians, eschatological categories like wrath, hell, damnation, and eternal separation from God are rarely talked about-even from our best platforms and pulpits. This reality does not negate their ontological standing-these categories are real and the real consequences behind door #3. Again, the great news is what’s behind these doors is not unknown to the host, God Himself. They are also not unknown to the Christian who is tasked with the moral good of proselytizing or evangelism.

We are tasked with this out of the love of God who wants to give all people all of the blessings behind all of the doors of life and also to save us from each and every pain, heartache, and ultimately, eternal hell and damnation. It is a moral good and requisite expression of faith to help those around us make the right and good decisions about God, life and the afterlife. As we help them, we are asking them to risk what they have in hopes of something even better, to make a deal, knowing what they will win in exchange is eternally better than what they now possess.

York Moore is an author and serves as National Evangelist and National Director for Catalytic Partnerships for InterVarsity USA. Moore is a convener of leaders for evangelism and missions in America, and a founder of the Every Campus initiative.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #58 on: January 20, 2021, 11:10:40 am »


Failed Trump Prophecies Offer a Lesson in Humility

Instead of persecuting prophets who have apologized, we might do better to join them.

The failed prophecies of Donald Trump’s reelection may have damaged the credibility of the US independent Charismatic wing of evangelicalism more than any event since the televangelist scandals of the 1980s. They have led some outsiders to criticize Christianity itself and rightly call us to introspection.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m Charismatic myself, and the majority of Pentecostal and Charismatic pastors I know were not paying attention to such prophecies. Millions of online views and shares, though, show that many people were.

The first step toward correcting mistakes is admitting that we have made them. As we approach the inauguration of President Joe Biden, some who prophesied Trump’s reelection remain adamant that they were correct. Perhaps the election was stolen or will be overturned, or in some mystical realm Trump is actually spiritually president. Some just change the subject. Unfortunately, their hardcore followers may settle for that.

Others acknowledge that prophecy must be tested and, by affirming Biden’s win, now tacitly concede that they were wrong. Yet certain prophets have drawn the attention of Charismatics and non-Charismatics alike by publicly confessing that their prophecies were indeed mistaken and extending their apologies.

R. Loren Sandford, Jeremiah Johnson, and Kris Vallotton have recently expressed contrition and even repentance for incorrectly prophesying that Trump would win again in 2020. All three urge us to pray for and work respectfully with the new administration.

Their explanations for how they may have initially misheard God’s voice may help in guarding against similar errors in the future. Meanwhile, those of us who might be tempted to tell them, “I told you so” ought to remember that God requires the same humility from us (Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 5:19–20).

Their confessions, along the examples of prophets throughout Scripture, offer some useful cautions about the influence of peer pressure, pride, and presumption—and the need for Christians to remain cautious about predictions and open to correction when their interpretations prove false.

Prophets and Peer Pressure
Sandford, who has an MDiv from Fuller, is the only one of the prophetic voices circulating today of whom I knew several years ago. He has a pretty good track record. I am a witness that, by the beginning of President Trump’s first term, he predicted that an economic crisis caused by circumstances outside the US would shake Trump’s fourth year and that subsequent events depended partly on Trump learning to control his divisive rhetoric.

Yet Sandford eventually fell in line with the prophetic chorus announcing the president’s reelection. He now confesses that he allowed the consensus of other prophets to sway his own heart.

“Up until now, I have always sought the Lord on my own, gotten the word first from him and then, and only then, have I compared it with what others were saying,” he wrote in a public apology last week. “My first confession is therefore that I departed from that discipline. I allowed myself to be caught up in a prevailing stream and to be carried along by it. In doing that, I actually compromised what the Lord had already told me years before.”

Peer pressure can be considerable; a messenger urged Micaiah, “the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your words agree with theirs, and speak favorably” (1 Kings 22:13). Micaiah stood alone in proclaiming the truth and was jailed for it. (In the US today he would simply lose his market share of social media attention.) Jeremiah was confused because his message contradicted that of all the other prophets (Jer. 14:13).

Peer review has its place; in the church in Corinth, where few converts had been believers more than a couple years, those who prophesied needed to evaluate one another’s words (1 Cor. 14:29); the Spirit enables evaluation (1 Cor. 2:13–16). But it is possible to depend too much on a peer-review safety net: “‘Therefore,’ declares the Lord, ‘I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me’” (Jer. 23:30).

Prophets and Pride
All believers hear from God: At the very least, his Spirit testifies to our spirits that we are God’s children (Rom. 8:16). Some are gifted to hear God in clearer ways than others; God has measured out faith for different gifts, and some thus prophesy—hear from and speak for God—more fully (Rom. 12:3, 6).

Unfortunately, if we grow overconfident in our gift, we may speak beyond the measure granted to us. (That is a temptation to which we who have the gift of teaching also may succumb; certainly those with the “gift” of commenting online often do.) Pride can mislead us: We humans have a temptation to take credit for God’s work or gift and make it about us. A gift—whether prophecy, teaching, giving, or the like—does not make us better than anyone else; by definition, it’s something we receive, not based on our merit (1 Cor. 4:7).

Not everyone who hears from God does so on the same level: Visions and dreams are often like riddles that require interpretation, as opposed to God speaking in person as he did with Moses (Num. 12:6–8). Most of us will experience that face-to-face knowing only when we see Jesus at his return (1 Cor. 13:8–12). Impressions and even fairly fluent prophecy still flow through frail vessels. The Lord’s assurance that everything will be all right does not always mean that the outcome will be the only scenario that we suppose “all right” must mean.

The humblest prophets who were wrong have apologized. Even when we speak initially, we must remain humble and frame our opinions carefully where we lack certainty.

Prophets and Presumption
Sometimes we may want to hear one thing from the Lord when he has something different to tell us. Sandford laments that he fell prey partly to “the tendency we have to hear what we want to hear.”

Sometimes we can be tempted to speak simply because people expect our voice, but that can risk drawing on the vaguest of impressions or inclinations, thus filling in with “visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 23:16). “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (Jer. 23:21-22, NRSV).

Julian Adams, who prophesied specifically and accurately to my wife and me, also told me that people were expecting him to prophesy about certain coming events. He says that he resisted because the Lord simply hadn’t told him anything about them. He did not prophesy the election outcome. No surprise: The Lord did not show everything supernaturally even to Elisha (2 Kings 4:27).

Although overlap is possible, futurists aren’t prophets. Biblical prophecy is about declaring the word of the Lord, which is more a matter of revealing God’s heart (forthtelling) than about prediction (foretelling). Being a competent futurist—someone who predicts trends based on current events and significant information—has value for planning, but it is not identical with the biblical gift of prophecy. And even futurists are liable to give lopsided predictions when they get their news from only one source, whether on the Right or on the Left.

We also need to be flexible in applying what we believe we have heard. Jeremiah Johnson offered many accurate predictions, including Trump’s 2016 election even when he was a longshot candidate early in the Republican primaries. In his apology, however, he confesses that he read too much into some of what he heard earlier. Because God shows us a purpose for a season does not mean that this will remain his purpose.

Jonah was angry when God withdrew his promised judgment against the Ninevites (Jonah 3:4–4:3), but the Lord reminded Jeremiah that repentance or apostasy would affect outcomes (Jer. 18:6–11). God had his purpose in having Samuel anoint Saul as king over Israel. But Samuel didn’t assume that his earlier instruction meant that God planned for Saul to serve another term if Saul did not mature in his calling.

Elijah prophesied the obliteration of Ahab’s dynasty, but God told him afterward that because of Ahab’s repentance the judgment would be delayed (1 Kings 21:28–29). My theologian friends hold a range of views on how to explain this; my personal understanding is that though God foreknows the outcomes, he often speaks to us just what we need for the moment. We need to be ready to change course as needed.

Prophets and Public Platforms
Wicked kings tended to give platforms to false prophets or to corrupt them through political favor (1 Kings 18:22; 22:6–7; 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:15). But who gives platforms to prophets, true or false, today?

Local accountability has warded off some errors and facilitated the process of introspection for those who have publicly repented of public errors. Acts 13 shows us prophets and teachers leading the church community in Antioch. Even when the visiting prophet Agabus predicted a global famine (which apparently hit different parts of the eastern Roman Empire at different times), believers in Antioch had to decide how to respond (Acts 11:27–30). Those listening for God’s voice should be tested and get their practice in small groups (analogous to ancient house churches) and other less potentially harmful local levels before obtaining the national stage.

Unfortunately, social media makes it next to impossible to control the national stage, and consumeristic North American Christians tend to gravitate toward what they’re inclined to hear (2 Tim. 4:3–4). It’s not the fault of true prophets and teachers if false ones often get higher view counts. Times when the prophetic voice is silent in the land are desperate times or even times of judgment (1 Sam. 3:1; Ps. 74:9; Isa. 29:10–12), but times when false prophecy dominates are worse (Jer. 37:19; Zech. 13:1–6).

This means that the law of supply and demand can affect religious media: When people do not want true prophecy, they will get what is false. People say “to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions” (Isa. 30:10). “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule as the prophets direct; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” (Jer. 5:31 NRSV).

If consumers of a particular political or other bent want to hear prophecies that support their desires, prophets who meet those felt needs will become most popular. Recent history suggests that some of them will maintain most of their audiences even when their prophecies fail.

Especially in difficult times, most prophets tell people what they want to hear (Jer. 6:14; 8:11; 14:13), making things all the harder for true prophets (15:10, 15–18; 20:7–18). But God reveals the burden of proof: “From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true” (Jer. 28:8–9).

Pouring Out the Bath Water?
At the other extreme from inflexible defenders of prophecies are those who are tempted to throw out prophecy altogether, neglecting the baby in that bath water. When Paul urges us to examine everything, he also warns us not to despise prophecy (1 Thess. 5:19–22). When he exhorts us to evaluate prophecies (1 Cor. 14:29), he also urges us to pursue the gift (1 Cor. 14:1, 39).

What may be the Bible’s most sustained denunciation of false prophets (Jer. 23) is delivered through a true prophet, Jeremiah. “‘Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 23:28).

Three obscure persons, who did not know each other or me, independently prophesied to Médine Moussounga in Congo that someday she would marry a white man with an important ministry. There aren’t many white men in Congo. Yet Médine and I have been married now for about 19 years.

I am a Bible professor who gets to spend most of my time learning more about Scripture. Those we call prophets and teachers have much to learn from each other; prophets may offer insight in how Scripture applies to our generation (note Huldah in 2 Kings 22:11–20). But neither prophets nor teachers are writing Scripture today.

Whereas prophecies and spiritual intuitions must be tested, Scripture comes to us already having passed the test; there are good reasons why Jeremiah’s words are in our canon whereas those of the failed prophets of his day aren’t. Scripture offers a secure foundation.

Still, even Scripture must be interpreted, and diverse interpretations (and political biases) surface in teaching also. Those of us who exercise the gift of teaching deal with God’s Word in a far more explicit form, yet even we often differ on our interpretations. When we teachers say, “The Bible says,” but we are wrong, our interpretation is false. Teachers will be judged strictly (James 3:1), so we too must be humble and open to correction.

If we judged teachers as harshly as some judge prophets—one wrong interpretation and you’re out—we probably would not have any teachers today. (Based on the context, I do differ from the one-strike-out interpretation from Deuteronomy that many give prophecy today, but that is another subject.) But Scripture usually reserves titles of false prophecy and false teaching for the most serious of errors. If that means that our commentaries or classes must correctly explain every verse we engage, most of us would file for early retirement right now!

Persecution or Purification?
We have a mess to clean up on our US Christian landscape today. After Congress certified President Biden’s win, Johnson publicly repented for prophesying Trump’s reelection. To his astonishment, some professed Christians denounced him, cursed him, and even threatened his life. While we should avoid conspiracy theories, priests and prophets devised real conspiracies to kill the biblical Jeremiah for his unpatriotic prophecies (Jer. 11:21; 26:11). Diehard defenders of falsehoods can prove inflexible.

Instead of persecuting the repentant, we might do better to join them. While still believing that Trump would have been the better choice, Johnson lamented that many Christians put their hope in him. No president and no political party, right or left, can take the place of Jesus. It is not just the prophets who need repentance.

Christians may disagree among ourselves, but where we have divided from one another by putting politics over the one body that Christ died for, repentance is in order. The repentant prophets show us a way forward. If we seek revival, then repentance and humility are a good place to start.

If the Lord has humbled us, he has also given us an opportunity to learn. May we embrace this opportunity and take the steps necessary, bringing together different gifts in the body of Christ and—above all—humility.

Craig Keener is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the author of Christobiography: Memories, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels, which won a 2020 CT Book Award.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #59 on: February 01, 2021, 08:41:24 pm »


How American Politics Complicates Evangelicalism in the UK

Facing Brexit fallout and another COVID lockdown, the head of the country’s Evangelical Alliance is eager to shift attention away from Trump and back to their mission.

For the past four years, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Evangelical Alliance faced several major national challenges: Brexit divides, religious liberty concerns, dramatic demographic shifts, a pandemic, and political baggage that made its way across the pond.

Since white American evangelicals became known as some of former US President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters, Gavin Calver saw media in his own country conflate them with the Christians his organization represents. Calver had to work even harder to educate others about the broad array of evangelicals in the UK, who don’t fully align with any single party or politician.

“I can find myself tweeting about a food bank serving in Bradford, only for someone on the other side of the world to lambast me for being a Trump supporter,” Calver wrote in a reflection that ran on Inauguration Day in The Times of London. “How did it come to this? How has the word evangelical been so politicised?”

The end of Trump’s presidency last month means Calver’s job can again focus on the mission of evangelicals in the UK—currently under its third coronavirus lockdown—without having to untangle their message from American political associations.

“I can’t pretend it’s not easier now to say ‘I’m Gavin, I’m an evangelical Christian,’ and for that to not immediately link me to politics of a nation I’ve never lived in, I’ve never voted in, and I have no plans to move to,” the Evangelical Alliance CEO said in a recent interview with Christianity Today. “People were desperate to get back to an evangelicalism that is liberated from bondage to other things, and actually focuses on the main thing, which is making Jesus known together.”

Calver has close ties to the United States. Until recently, his parents were pastors there, and his father, Clive Calver, once led World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the US National Association of Evangelicals. But he has seen how the political approaches by evangelicals in the two countries have clashed for decades; while the Religious Right made way for American evangelicals’ steady Republican support, British evangelicals have more representation across the three major parties and focus on issues over affiliation, according to Calver.

Misunderstandings over the evangelical term got exaggerated as UK media attention turned to the American president, but some of the confusion has been there all along; the faith is not as “mainstream” as in the US, he said.

Last week, Gavin Calver spoke with CT about the shared history between the evangelical communities in the UK and the US, how Trump has affected their close relationship, promising opportunities amid another COVID-19 lockdown, and what Brexit means for the unity of the British church.

How would you describe the historical relationship between US and UK evangelicals?

Our two nations have a special relationship on so many levels, and the church shares that too. Personally, the one that most comes to mind was when the late great Billy Graham came over for a couple of tours. My grandpa at the time was the chairman of a couple of his European tours. I remember as a little boy being at Crystal Palace or Wembley Stadium and seeing loads of people come to the front to give their lives to Jesus.

The ministries of Rick Warren or Tim Keller have had profound impacts in this nation, and the ministry of someone like the great late John Stott would have had a huge impact in the US. Ministries like Alpha that have worked really well in the UK worked well in the US, and the Purpose Driven Life stuff that came out of Saddleback a while ago worked well in the UK as well.

How did American evangelical support of Trump affect evangelicals’ reputation in the UK?

The problem was this word evangelical was connected to something that we had very little influence over and no control upon. In the media, they would talk about evangelical Christians doing X, Y, and Z as in the US. That by association made it look like we were the same people with the same ideology and the same everything.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We’re brothers and sisters. That’s important that we hold to that, but we’re a million miles away politically at times. It was a struggle to lead something here in the UK that was seen in the light of Trump. What Trump stood for by association the media caricatured us as standing for and, with the greatest respect, that often was not the case.

Would you say Trump’s presence and the American evangelical support for Trump tested this historically strong relationship between the two communities?

It created that awkward moment at a family dinner party where there’s something you can’t talk about because it’s just going to lead to a complete disagreement. I know that from my own experiences of visiting the US and having family there that it causes a tension in families that we don’t really understand here. Politics are important, but they’re not at any point some kind of demigods in our society here in the United Kingdom. The absolute wedding of politics and faith was not helpful when trying to have rational conversations.

Back in 2019, Franklin Graham planned a number of crusades in the UK. Multiple entertainment arenas canceled them after LGBT activists organized against his coming. How have you made sense of this situation?

The issue for us in the United Kingdom is the religious liberty issue of the “cancel culture,” that you’re not allowed to hold that kind of event in a venue. But the church was very much divided as to whether it supported or didn’t support Franklin coming. The pandemic led to an outcome in which he couldn’t come. But now it will be interesting to see what happens in some of the legal cases around freedom of religion that are going to be taking place with those venues that wouldn’t have them.

Franklin Graham’s relentless support of Trump certainly didn’t help in the UK lens. But once the venues were canceled and COVID stopped it from happening, the issue now is: What are the religious liberty consequences, if any, going forward here? That’s significant to every evangelist that wants to speak about Jesus in any public setting in the UK.

How has the UK church responded to the pandemic?

We’ve got a change in spiritual temperature. For years the church has been answering questions the world wasn’t asking, but since the pandemic, 25 percent of the population of the UK has to been to church online at least once. Normally only 5 percent of the population goes to church. We’re calling it mortality salience, which is an awareness of your own fragility. You might die one day, so you start asking the big questions.

There’s been a change in style. We’ve gone from not thinking we could do online church to doing it amazingly. There’s been a changing cultural narrative. In my role at the EA before the pandemic, I’d be asked my views on abortion or same-sex marriage or something else to try to caricature you as what the media wanted to see you as. Since the start of the pandemic we’re asked, “How are you going to help rebuild the society socially and spiritually?”

Have any churches been able to meet in person in the UK during the pandemic?

On and off. We’re in our third lockdown now. In the first lockdown churches couldn’t meet. In the second some could. In this one, you can within certain limitations, so some are. We’ve got a different situation here too than in much of the US. It’s much stricter here. We’re very much obeying the rules we’re given, and masks are not controversial here. You wear a mask because you love your neighbor and you want your neighbor to live for longer.

I’ve preached more times than ever before in my life, but I’ve seen less of people. When I have preached in a building, it’s been slightly odd; you have to wear a mask; you can’t sing in church. The church has never closed; we’ve just changed our style.

How has Brexit already begun to change how evangelicals do ministry, both domestically and in Europe overall?

It’s too early to talk about how it’s particularly changed, seeing as Brexit only fully happened about four weeks ago. The challenge for the UK evangelicals is not to become an island. You could ask, how could we evangelicals vote on Brexit? Probably as the nation voted, which is 52 percent in favor and 48 percent against.

Nationalism doesn’t really have a place in evangelicalism for me. We’re citizens of the kingdom of heaven; therefore, we need to make sure we look outwards to Europe and also look inwards to make sure that we’re being open. The church is the only organization in the United Kingdom and in Europe and in the USA that can potentially get everyone in the same place on the same team, loving one another and reaching out.

My church did men’s curry nights. We had 15 men at the curry nights, 14 nationalities. The guy who runs the curry house system said, “What on earth are you?” I said, “What you think we are?” He says, “I think you’re the church. No other group in this community can get this diverse group of people around the same table, eating together, laughing together, and being together.” The church can do something the world can’t do.”

In this season, when Britain and the United Kingdom could become like a little UK again, looking inwards, let’s look outwards. There’s no British people in heaven, just brothers and sisters celebrating for eternity.

Last year, Northern Ireland legalized abortion and same-sex marriage. Was this something that you anticipated?

We knew these challenges were coming. Obviously, we disagree with both of those decisions by the government there. We put up a good fight, but, in the end, the secular tsunami won out. However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to advocate for what Scripture says and don’t continue to work with the powers that be on issues that are important like this.

The United Kingdom is a challenging landscape. It is an increasingly secular one. Whatever happens that’s really wonderful between now and the end of time, whatever happens that’s really horrible and difficult between now and the end of time, we know, at the end of the story, Jesus wins. Therefore, in the middle, we hold firm. We stand firmly on his word, and we do what we can to make him known.

What type of impact are African and West Indian believers having on the UK church in recent decades?

Absolutely huge. A quarter of UK evangelicals are not white. If you go into London, which is the place in the United Kingdom where the church has been growing by far the fastest, half of those who go to church in London aren’t white. For many years, United Kingdom sent missionaries all over the world. I’m just so grateful that many have been sent back in reverse mission.

We are grateful for it. One of the perhaps potential differences in the UK is the way that ethnicities and nationalities and different groupings of people all live together in such harmony and togetherness and unity.

Can you elaborate?

One of the most important works of the Evangelical Alliance is our One People commission led by my friend and brother Yemi Adedeji. The One People commission exists to celebrate our unity across ethnic diversity. We are used to, in this nation, very much living together. Churches are often multicultural and we are doing fairly well in that space, but there’s still a lot more work to be done. At the Evangelical Alliance, one of our main things to make sure is that we’re calling for unity, we are working our relationships together, and that brother- and sisterhood goes beyond human divides.

Certainly, in the light of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter marches in the US, the reaction in the UK was significant and necessary, but it did feel like we were starting from a different place as well. Let’s not be naïve or foolish enough to think that the UK church in the UK itself don’t have problems with racism. They do. But it feels like on this issue that we are further down the track towards working out what it really means to be a united society that’s fair for all. But we still have a long way to go.

What are the types of issues that pose a challenge to church unity in the UK?

Brexit’s been an issue. if you said to me, 10 years ago, “Is the UK’s involvement in Europe a potentially divisive issue for the church?” I would have said, “That’s so silly. How could it be?” Then suddenly you’ve got a referendum, and you realize the church is as split as the nation. We’ve got our own wounds to recover from, and we’re trying to do that and we’re trying to say that what unites us in Christ is so much more important than what divides us.

At the Evangelical Alliance, we're saying this is our family, and it's important we bring them together.

We also want to be involved in wider acts of Christian unity as well, but the tribe that I’m part of is the evangelical one.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #60 on: February 08, 2021, 10:10:20 pm »


Evangelical Christians Must Take Action to Love Thy Neighbor

Extending grace can be a powerful public witness for Evangelicals today.

The events of this past summer were a wake-up call for Christians, including Evangelicals. From acknowledging centuries-old, endemic racial inequality from the pulpit, calls to prayer, protest, and action, many are trying to find ways to step from the sidelines to the playing field in the pursuit of justice.

Indeed, our faith calls us to action and accountability as God’s people. The Old and New Testaments of the Bible express a preoccupation with justice. For example, biblical teaching found in Isaiah, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression” and Hebrews, “… remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” are just two examples of the ancient Judeo-Christian witness to a God with unwavering commitment to justice.

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship®, prioritized the Hebrews mandate to come alongside those affected by crime and incarcerated. We believe God created humanity in God’s own image, and no life is beyond God’s redemptive touch. Our faith drives us to work to bring the restorative justice envisioned and empowered by God and His Word into the broken lives, relationships, and communities we serve.

Redeeming systems as well as souls

Along the way, we have witnessed firsthand racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Stark racial imbalances at every stage of the nation’s criminal justice system confront people of color, particularly Black Americans. For example, at the arrest stage, while only 13% of Americans are Black, 27% of those arrested are Black.[1] Similarly, the 2018 adult probation population was composed of 55% white individuals but 30% Black individuals. The remaining probation population included 13% Hispanic, 1% American Indian/Alaska Native, 1% Asian, less than 1% Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and less than 1% individuals who identify as two or more races.[2]

Communities of color are subject to higher-than-average rates of traffic stops and police searches, and African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be subject to the threat or actual use of force by police.[3] African Americans are significantly more likely to be arrested for a drug crime, even though rates of drug use and trafficking are roughly equal across all races.[4] Further, federal sentencing data indicate that when convicted, Black males are often subjected to harsher-than-average sentences and less likely to receive any form of reduced sentence, charge, or plea agreement, when compared to similarly situated individuals of non-African American descent.[5]

Historically, evangelical Christianity has greatly emphasized an individual faith commitment that transforms the whole person. Not surprisingly, Barna found 93% of evangelicals agreed their values make caring for prisoners important (compared to 75% of Americans generally).

In our focus on the individual, evangelical Christians—including me—sometimes lose sight of the Gospel’s community implications. Not only do souls require redemption but so do societal systems and structures. Yes, we should “visit the prisoner,” but we must also ask ourselves whether or not it is just that they’re there in the first place, or for so long. Further, in the U.S., some 44,000 legal barriers to housing, employment, and other opportunities prevent people with a criminal record from flourishing. While we share with incarcerated men and women that all things are possible through Christ, we cannot be complacent about a system that, upon their release, holds them back.

Living faith—inside and out

Matthew Charles spent decades caught in the disparities of the system. Arrested in 1995 for selling crack cocaine, Matthew received a 35-year sentence in federal prison. Not long after his arrest, another incarcerated man gave him a Gideon Bible. After reading it cover to cover, Matthew gave his life to Christ. “From that point on, things just started dramatically changing for the better in my life. It was just amazing,” he said.

But while Matthew experienced personal transformation, the system that imprisoned him was slow to change. The disproportionate sentencing that mandated higher prison terms for crack than powdered cocaine kept Matthew in prison 16 years for his nonviolent crime. And though his term eventually was reduced, and Matthew left prison in June 2016 under the Fair Sentencing Act of in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice won an appeal claiming that he was ineligible for early release. Matthew then was sent back to prison in May 2018, on the grounds the law could not be applied retroactively.

Matthew’s story caught the nation’s attention. Thousands demanded his release. Then, on January 3, 2019, Matthew Charles became one of the very first people set free under the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act (FSA), which Prison Fellowship helped craft and supported alongside an extraordinary range of partners. And we continue the work of creating constructive culture for the restoration of incarcerated men and women, but we can’t stop there.

Charles Colson often repeated Abraham Kuyper’s words: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” This includes the criminal justice system. Concerned Christian advocates must help transform our system with biblical values like fairness and restoration. According to the Barna poll, communities of color—those most adversely impacted by the systems’ failings—already know this and are, unsurprisingly, more likely to agree the Church should support second chance reforms and to consider elected officials’ positions on justice when voting.

Toward a more just society

According to Barna polling, most Christians already believe the primary purpose of the criminal justice system should be restoration. They believe in redemption and second chances. At this time when the tide is turning toward racial equality, Christians must not let anything, including a lack of knowledge—both about America’s current state of criminal justice and about how to apply what the Bible says about justice—hinder taking action on our beliefs.

The changes we need to make are not abstract but readily within our grasp. Church leaders can educate themselves on the state of the criminal justice system and how to use biblical values to address its current ills, including racial injustice. They can lead their congregations to embrace second chances as a public expression of grace.

After all, it’s not a new calling but a fuller realization of our oldest one—to love God and our neighbors as ourselves.

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau, (April 2020), https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219; Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the U.S., 2018: Arrests by Race and Ethnicity, 2018, Table 43A, Uniform Criminal Reporting,: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/table-43;.

[2] U.S. Department of Justice, Probation and Parole in the United States, 2017-2018, Appendix Table 4, By Danielle Kaeble, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August. 2020,https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ppus1718.pdf .

[3] U.S. Department of Justice, Contacts Between the Policy and the Public, Table 1, By Elizabeth Davis, Anthony Whyde, Lynn Langton Ph.D, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nov. 2018, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpp15.pdf.

[4] Results obtained by calculated data obtained from, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the U.S., 2018: Arrests by Race and Ethnicity, 2018, Table 43A, Uniform Criminal Reporting: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/table-43;.

[5] United States Sentencing Commission, Demographic Differences in Sentencing, at p. 2, Nov. 2017, https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/research-publications/2017/20171114_Demographics.pdf.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the work of Prison Fellowship and other pursuing similar goals, consider these opportunities:

Sign the Justice Declaration at justicedeclaration.org: The Justice Declaration is a statement proclaiming the unique responsibility and capacity of the Church to address crime and overincarceration.
Complete the Outrageous Justice® small-group study with a free copy : Developed by Prison Fellowship, Outrageous Justice is a free small-group study that explores the criminal justice system and pursuing restoration.
Host a Second Chance® Sunday: Every April, Prison Fellowship raises awareness on the issues discussed above through Second Chance® Month. You and your church can get involved with the toolkit.
Heather Rice-Minus is the senior vice president of advocacy and church mobilization at Prison Fellowship. Founded by the late Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading voice for restorative criminal justice reform.

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #61 on: February 13, 2021, 08:57:07 am »


Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation

His ministry, preparing to downsize in the wake of a new investigation, expresses regret for “misplaced trust” in a leader who used his esteem to conceal his sexual misconduct.

A four-month investigation found the late Ravi Zacharias leveraged his reputation as a world-famous Christian apologist to abuse massage therapists in the United States and abroad over more than a decade while the ministry led by his family members and loyal allies failed to hold him accountable.

He used his need for massage and frequent overseas travel to hide his abusive behavior, luring victims by building trust through spiritual conversations and offering funds straight from his ministry.

A 12-page report released Thursday by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) confirms abuse by Zacharias at day spas he owned in Atlanta and uncovers five additional victims in the US, as well as evidence of sexual abuse in Thailand, India, and Malaysia.

Even a limited review of Zacharias’s old devices revealed contacts for more than 200 massage therapists in the US and Asia and hundreds of images of young women, including some that showed the women naked. Zacharias solicited and received photos until a few months before his death in May 2020 at age 74.

Zacharias used tens of thousands of dollars of ministry funds dedicated to a “humanitarian effort” to pay four massage therapists, providing them housing, schooling, and monthly support for extended periods of time, according to investigators.

One woman told the investigators that “after he arranged for the ministry to provide her with financial support, he required sex from her.” She called it rape.

She said Zacharias “made her pray with him to thank God for the ‘opportunity’ they both received” and, as with other victims, “called her his ‘reward’ for living a life of service to God,” the report says. Zacharias warned the woman—a fellow believer—if she ever spoke out against him, she would be responsible for millions of souls lost when his reputation was damaged.

The findings, alongside details revealed over months of internal reckoning at RZIM, challenge the picture many have had of Zacharias.

When he died in May, he was praised for his faithful witness, his commitment to the truth, and his personal integrity. Now it is clear that, offstage, the man so long admired by Christians around the world abused numerous women and manipulated those around him to turn a blind eye.

Miller & Martin attorneys Lynsey Barron and William Eiselstein, hired by RZIM to investigate, interviewed 50 witnesses and examined phones Zacharias used from 2014 to 2018. In the end, the lawyers said “we are confident that we uncovered sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct,” though the investigation was not exhaustive.

The RZIM board released a statement alongside the investigation expressing regret and taking some responsibility:

“Ravi engaged in a series of extensive measures to conceal his behavior from his family, colleagues, and friends. However, we also recognize that in situations of prolonged abuse, there often exist significant structural, policy, and cultural problems. ... We were trusted by our staff, our donors, and the public to mentor, oversee, and ensure the accountability of Ravi Zacharias, and in this we have failed.”

RZIM hired Miller & Martin after a September 2020 Christianity Today report on allegations of abuse by three women who worked at Zacharias’s spas. Initially, the ministry leadership stated it did not believe the women. Today that has changed.

“We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation,” the statement said.

In a span of eight months, RZIM has gone from having to reimagine the work of its global ministry following the death of its renowned namesake to having to restructure entirely, as Christians inside and outside the organization lost trust in its longtime leader.

Multiple speakers and RZIM staff members left the ministry during the course of the investigation, concerned about top officials’ initial response to the allegations. RZIM’s Canadian branch suspended fundraising efforts and donation collection through April, while the UK-based Zacharias Trust is threatening to split if RZIM does not apologize to victims and institute major reforms. (Update: The day after the report was released the UK board voted unanimously to separate from RZIM and choose a new name.)

Even before the report’s release on Thursday evening, RZIM leadership had shifted to reduce the involvement of the Zacharias family. Margie Zacharias, Ravi’s widow, resigned from the board and the ministry in January, while her daughter Sarah Davis stepped down as board chair but remains CEO.

Staff members inside RZIM say the ministry—the largest apologetics organization in the world—plans to dramatically downsize to as few as 10 US apologists and a few international speakers, supported by a small staff.

Investigation limited by NDA
In addition to confirming previous reports of abuse at Zacharias’s spas, the new report corroborated four-year-old allegations by Lori Anne Thompson, the Canadian woman who says Zacharias manipulated her into sending him sexually explicit texts and photos. Her case was the first sexual scandal related to Zacharias to go public, and it inspired other victims to come forward.

Zacharias had sued Thompson in 2017, claiming that her lawyer’s letter to the RZIM board alleging sexual abuse was actually an elaborate attempt at extortion. The board wrote on Thursday that “we believe Lori Anne Thompson has told the truth about the nature of her relationship with Ravi Zacharias.”

Investigators interviewed other witnesses who “recounted similar conduct” as Thompson’s allegations and found a six-year-long pattern of text messaging with other women before and after her.

Yet Thompson and her husband, Brad, were unable to participate in the recent investigation themselves. The late apologist’s estate refused investigators’ requests to lift a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to allow the Thompsons to speak about what happened. Their attorney, Basyle Tchividjian, told investigators that with everything that has come to light, the fact that the Thompsons are still bound by an NDA is “reprehensible.”

Davis wrote in a ministry-wide email that RZIM “asked for a modification to the NDA for the purpose of the investigation,” but the organization has no authority over the estate, which is controlled by her mother, Margie Zacharias. The estate also refused to have Zacharias’s personal attorneys hand over any evidence collected from his devices at the time, leaving a gap in the record examined by Miller & Martin.

According to the investigative report, however, Zacharias continued soliciting sexual images of women as he settled the case with the Thompsons, defended himself publicly, and assured the RZIM leadership and staff he did nothing wrong and there was no need to investigate.

“While he told his staff that his real mistake in the Thompson matter was not alerting someone that he was receiving photographs of another woman, we have no indication that he ever went to RZIM management or its Board on the more than 200 occasions he received photographs of women during and after the Thompson matter,” the report says.

In fact, one day after Zacharias publicly stated in 2017 that he had learned a “difficult and painful lesson” over his communication with Lori Anne Thompson, he received more photographs from another woman, investigators found. That woman went on to send him nude pictures as well.

One thing did change, though. After the Thompson case, the investigators noticed that Zacharias did a better job of deleting his messages in ways that could not be detected or uncovered.

In its statement released with the report, the RZIM board acknowledged the failure and apologized to Lori Anne Thompson.

“We were wrong,” the statement says. “It is with profound grief that we recognize that because we did not believe the Thompsons and both privately and publicly perpetuated a false narrative, they were slandered for years and their suffering was greatly prolonged and intensified. This leaves us heartbroken and ashamed.”

‘He was able to hide his misconduct in plain sight’
Much of the abuse uncovered by investigators took place around massage, which Zacharias relied on to treat a chronic back injury. He regularly traveled with a personal masseuse and criticized a fellow RZIM staff member who questioned the “appearance of impropriety” for doing so.

While the report did not interview sources abroad, investigators uncovered evidence that Zacharias routinely met massage therapists when he traveled.

“He would often arrange for massage treatments in his hotel room when he was likely alone,” the report said. “According to his text messages, at times he would meet the therapists in the hotel lobby and at other times he would direct them to come straight to his room.”

In Bangkok, he owned two apartments in the early 2010s, sharing a building with one of his massage therapists, the investigators found. The notes app on his phone included Thai and Mandarin translations of phrases like “I’d like to have a beautiful memory with you,” “little bit further,” and “your lips are especially beautiful.”

The massage therapists and the women pictured in Zacharias’s phone albums were decades younger than him, many in their 20s.

The investigation did not find any evidence that RZIM leadership or staff knew about Zacharias’s sexual misconduct. It also shows the ministry provided little to no accountability for its namesake and founder.

“Because his need for massage treatments was well known and accepted, he was able to hide his misconduct in plain sight,” the report says.

Zacharias spoke about the importance of “physical safeguards” to “protect my integrity,” but the Miller & Martin report notes that “As the architect of those ‘physical safeguards,’ Mr. Zacharias well knew how to elude them.”

The investigation confirmed that Zacharias lied about not being alone with a woman other than his wife or daughters. He also maintained multiple phones at all times, kept them on a different wireless plan than RZIM, and never used the wireless network at the office. Zacharias said this was for security, but it ensured his communication could not be monitored.

The RZIM board’s statement acknowledges that it has “fallen gravely short” and expresses regret “that we allowed our misplaced trust in Ravi to result in him having less oversight and accountability than would have been wise and loving.”

Each example in the report contrasts with the public witness of a leader—and a ministry—known for preaching integrity and truth.

“Those of you who have seen me in public have no idea what I’m like in private,” Zacharias told his supporters in a talk he gave about a year before he died, in a recording shared with CT. “God does. God does. And I encourage you today to make that commitment and say, ‘I’m going to be the man in private who will receive the divine accolade, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”

Many who looked up to Zacharias as a mentor, model, and spiritual father have been trying to grapple with the new information, their feelings of betrayal, and questions about their own responsibility.

“I feel disappointed in myself and others who could have pushed harder against the tides of submissive loyalty to demand better answers earlier, as there is no part of the evangelical creed that honours cowardice or sacrifices conscience,” Dan Paterson, the former head of RZIM in Australia, wrote on Facebook Wednesday night.

“I feel a profound sense of the fear of the Lord, knowing that one day I too will give an account, where like the RZ report, everything done under the shroud of darkness will be made known. Jesus comes to restore justice through judgment. Oh, how I wish Ravi repented here!”

Changes coming to RZIM
The board (whose names are not publicly available) and leadership have been planning for a reckoning since investigators’ interim report in December prepared RZIM to expect the worst.

Going into the process in September 2020, the ministry’s official stance was that the allegations couldn’t be true but that it would conduct an investigation to clear Zacharias’s name. At first, RZIM hired the firm of one of the lawyers who sued the Thompsons. Several people inside the ministry said vice president Abdu Murray suggested enlisting a “rough” ex-cop to track down the accusers and uncover information the ministry could use to discredit them.

RZIM changed course and hired Miller & Martin in early October, after several speakers said they found the allegations credible and demanded the ministry do a real and reputable investigation.

“I believe each of us bear a degree of responsibility for what we’ve all been blind to, what we’ve unwittingly enabled, what we’ve not spoken against, and what we’ve allowed to go on and continue,” Sam Allberry, one of the speakers, told colleagues in the UK.

As CT previously reported, fights over complicity and accountability roiled the ministry for months as the investigation continued. At the start of the new year, RZIM was bracing for a split.

Davis informed staff that some global offices may decide to separate from RZIM and become independent, national organizations. Currently, each office has its own articles of incorporation or national charter as a charity and is associated with the US-based ministry through an “affiliate agreement.” This has allowed RZIM to function as a single global ministry.

“We have been able to operate as one organization in practice for over 35 years, however, in a time of crisis such as ours, this has caused some of our boards to need to exercise decisions separate from the HQ and International Board in order to make what they feel are the best decisions for their entity,” Davis wrote.

Some senior apologists in RZIM think national separation is the only way to preserve parts of the ministry that are doing good work.

John Lennox, a Northern Irish mathematician and apologist who famously debated Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and other “new atheists,” has urged the UK branch of RZIM to separate. Lennox withdrew from all association with RZIM the day after CT reported the spa allegations, but told British apologists he would happily work with them if they were to form an independent organization.

“The current allegations are of such a serious nature that I cannot be involved in any ongoing activity in the name of RZIM,” Lennox wrote in a statement to the UK and US boards. “In my view, a renaming of the organisation and fundamental restructuring of the organisation and board needs to be done and done very quickly, if the potential of the marvelous young team of apologists is to be retained in any collective sense.”

Other national boards are also in the process of disentangling themselves from the US headquarters, according to multiple sources inside the ministry. The Canadian board said in a statement that “It is clear that this ministry cannot be built on previous structures” but “must be built on new approaches and relationships.”

The Canadian apologetics ministry also laid off four team members, including Daniel Gilman, a speaker who decided he believed the women who accused Zacharias of sexual abuse and vocally challenged RZIM leadership to acknowledge complicity. Gilman told CT he was deeply concerned the ministry he loved would choose to rebrand but not repent.

Gilman’s severance package included an NDA, which would bar him from “any action that could reasonably be anticipated to cause harm to the reputation” of or “negatively reflect” on RZIM. Gilman protested and the NDA was replaced with an agreement to keep donor information confidential.

Many more layoffs are expected soon. RZIM employees told CT that they expect the international ministry, which once boasted 100 speakers and 250 staff members nationwide, will be reduced to a fraction of that. Davis told staff that layoffs will be announced in the weeks after the Miller & Martin report is released.

“This is a very difficult decision necessary only because of the situation we find ourselves in,” she wrote. “We are profoundly sorry for this.”

After the staff reductions and national splits, the team that remains will likely be some of the speakers who were closest to Zacharias and have well-established relationships with major donors. People inside RZIM expect the core to include speakers Michael Ramsden, Abdu Murray, and Vince Vitale, led by Davis.

Davis stepped down as chair of the board, handing the reins over to Chris Blattner, a retired energy company executive and major donor from Minnesota. During the crisis, however, Davis has taken on more of the day-to-day management of RZIM, personally putting her name to all internal and external communication.

The RZIM board stated Thursday that “In light of the findings of the investigation and the ongoing evaluation, we are seeking the Lord’s will regarding the future of this ministry … We will be spending focused time praying and fasting as we discern how God is leading, and we will speak to this in the near future.”

RZIM announced it is bringing in victims advocate Rachael Denhollander to educate the board and leadership on sexual abuse and advise them on best practices going forward. The ministry has also hired a management consulting firm to evaluate “structures, culture, policies, processes, finances, and practices” and propose reforms.

Answered prayer
The secret of Zacharias’s abuse started to unravel the day of his funeral in May 2020. One of the massage therapists he groped, masturbated in front of, and asked for sexually explicit images watched in shock as the apologist was honored and celebrated on a livestream. Famous people, including Vice President Mike Pence and Christian football star Tim Tebow, spoke of Zacharias in glowing terms.

Has no one come forward? she thought. No one?

She worried about other women who might be out there, hurting. She prayed that something would happen.

The woman googled “Ravi Zacharias sex scandal” and found the blog RaviWatch, run by Steve Baughman, an atheist who had been tracking and reporting on Zacharias’s “fishy claims” since 2015. Baughman blogged on Zacharias’s false statements about academic credentials, the sexting allegations, and the subsequent lawsuit. When the woman read about what happened to Lori Anne Thompson, she recognized what had happened to that woman was what had happened to her.

As far as she could tell, this atheist blogger was the only one who cared that Zacharias had sexually abused people and gotten away with it. She reached out to Baughman and then eventually spoke to Christianity Today about Zacharias’s spas, the women who worked there, and the abuse that happened behind closed doors.

The woman from the spas told CT she didn’t expect anything from RZIM. Not an acknowledgement. Certainly not an apology. A multimillion-dollar ministry built in one man’s name and on his reputation would never admit the truth of his secrets, she thought.

She only spoke out because she wanted other women—women hurt by Zacharias, and women victimized by other famous and celebrated Christians—to know the truth. She wanted them to know that they weren’t alone.

This week, she believes God answered her prayer.

“I think it happened in God’s perfect time,” she said. “It’s in his time; it’s in his way. The Lord is doing this, and what will be left over is what God wants to be left over.”

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #62 on: February 13, 2021, 09:02:08 am »


Ravi Zacharias’s Books Pulled by HarperCollins After RZIM Investigative Report

Author Lee Strobel also plans to revise his “Case for Faith” to remove the late apologist.

The biggest Christian publisher in the United States will no longer offer resources by the late Ravi Zacharias following the final report of an investigation confirming his years-long pattern of abuse, and is working with at least one prominent author to remove Zacharias from other works.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing—which includes Zondervan and Thomas Nelson—had published more than 20 titles authored, coauthored, or edited by Zacharias over a 26-year span, including Can Man Live Without God?, which had been released in 21 languages.

“In September, when the most-recent sexual misconduct allegations against the late Ravi Zacharias surfaced, HarperCollins Christian Publishing immediately suspended all projects and shipments of his work,” said Casey Francis Harrell, vice president of corporate communications.

“Following the findings in the independent report, the company will immediately take all his publications out of print. We are deeply saddened, and we mourn for the victims.”

The HarperCollins site listed 16 English titles authored by Zacharias, which totaled more than 2 million copies in sales by the time of his death in May 2020. One was a marriage book offering “biblical wisdom” for “lasting love.”

The month before Zacharias died, Zondervan had published Seeing Jesus from the East, which the apologist co-authored with Abdu Murray, and the book ranked No. 6 on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association bestseller list last July. Other bestsellers included Who Made God? (2003) and The Logic of God (2019).

Jesus for You, Zacharias’s forthcoming book with Vince Vitale through Thomas Nelson, will no longer be released, blogger Steve Baughman confirmed last month.

Lee Strobel announced on Twitter on Friday that he and Zondervan decided to halt printings of his book The Case for Faith, which featured Zacharias, and would publish a revised version instead.

Strobel interviewed Zacharias more than 20 years ago. The interview spans 19 pages in the book, with Strobel describing the apologist as “gentle-spirited but with razor-sharp intellect” as he responds to questions about the exclusive claims of Christianity.

Zacharias is the latest Christian leader whose abuse revelations or other sinful behavior have caused followers to reconsider whether or not to keep using their teachings. Publishers have likewise pulled titles by leaders such as Bill Hybels, James MacDonald, and Mark Driscoll after they were forced from their leadership positions.

Jeff Crosby, the publisher of InterVarsity Press, previously told CT, “as a publisher, when a pastor-author has been credibly accused of or acknowledged wrong-doing in her or his leadership context, in particular, I believe we have an obligation to take the time to carefully and thoughtfully discern whether the published works should continue to be made available and act on what we discern even if it means lost revenue.”

The RZIM board statement did not indicate how the ministry will address promoting or sharing resources by Zacharias going forward; however, the apologist’s work has become less prominent on parts of its own site.

Zacharias’s titles Can Man Live Without God? and Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend, which appeared on RZIM’s list of “Recommended Reading” in Christian apologetics as recently as last fall, no longer appear on the page.

The board wrote in its statement Thursday that “we remain passionate about seeing the gospel preached through the questions of culture,” but that it would be “seeking the Lord’s will regarding the future of this ministry.”


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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #63 on: February 13, 2021, 07:06:06 pm »


Ravi Zacharias’s Books Pulled by HarperCollins After RZIM Investigative Report

Author Lee Strobel also plans to revise his “Case for Faith” to remove the late apologist.

The biggest Christian publisher in the United States will no longer offer resources by the late Ravi Zacharias following the final report of an investigation confirming his years-long pattern of abuse, and is working with at least one prominent author to remove Zacharias from other works.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing—which includes Zondervan and Thomas Nelson—had published more than 20 titles authored, coauthored, or edited by Zacharias over a 26-year span, including Can Man Live Without God?, which had been released in 21 languages.

“In September, when the most-recent sexual misconduct allegations against the late Ravi Zacharias surfaced, HarperCollins Christian Publishing immediately suspended all projects and shipments of his work,” said Casey Francis Harrell, vice president of corporate communications.

“Following the findings in the independent report, the company will immediately take all his publications out of print. We are deeply saddened, and we mourn for the victims.”

The HarperCollins site listed 16 English titles authored by Zacharias, which totaled more than 2 million copies in sales by the time of his death in May 2020. One was a marriage book offering “biblical wisdom” for “lasting love.”

The month before Zacharias died, Zondervan had published Seeing Jesus from the East, which the apologist co-authored with Abdu Murray, and the book ranked No. 6 on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association bestseller list last July. Other bestsellers included Who Made God? (2003) and The Logic of God (2019).

Jesus for You, Zacharias’s forthcoming book with Vince Vitale through Thomas Nelson, will no longer be released, blogger Steve Baughman confirmed last month.

Lee Strobel announced on Twitter on Friday that he and Zondervan decided to halt printings of his book The Case for Faith, which featured Zacharias, and would publish a revised version instead.

Strobel interviewed Zacharias more than 20 years ago. The interview spans 19 pages in the book, with Strobel describing the apologist as “gentle-spirited but with razor-sharp intellect” as he responds to questions about the exclusive claims of Christianity.

Zacharias is the latest Christian leader whose abuse revelations or other sinful behavior have caused followers to reconsider whether or not to keep using their teachings. Publishers have likewise pulled titles by leaders such as Bill Hybels, James MacDonald, and Mark Driscoll after they were forced from their leadership positions.

Jeff Crosby, the publisher of InterVarsity Press, previously told CT, “as a publisher, when a pastor-author has been credibly accused of or acknowledged wrong-doing in her or his leadership context, in particular, I believe we have an obligation to take the time to carefully and thoughtfully discern whether the published works should continue to be made available and act on what we discern even if it means lost revenue.”

The RZIM board statement did not indicate how the ministry will address promoting or sharing resources by Zacharias going forward; however, the apologist’s work has become less prominent on parts of its own site.

Zacharias’s titles Can Man Live Without God? and Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend, which appeared on RZIM’s list of “Recommended Reading” in Christian apologetics as recently as last fall, no longer appear on the page.

The board wrote in its statement Thursday that “we remain passionate about seeing the gospel preached through the questions of culture,” but that it would be “seeking the Lord’s will regarding the future of this ministry.”

Cancel society strikes again....so Sad for them!....I bet it made their day and May be it was the best day they will have...

1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

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Re: The fearless evangelist
« Reply #64 on: March 05, 2021, 07:39:28 am »


Conservative United Methodists Plan Breakaway Denomination

The new Global Methodist Church will leave the UMC regardless of the General Conference decision, which has been delayed until 2022.

Conservative United Methodists have chosen a name for the denomination they plan to form if a proposal to split the United Methodist Church is successful: The Global Methodist Church.

The Global Methodist Church unveiled its new name, logo, and website on Monday, days after the United Methodist Church announced it was once again postponing the May 2020 meeting that was set to consider the proposal to split.

That puts the likely launch of the planned denomination at least a year and a half away.

“Over the past year the council members, and hundreds of people who have informed their work, have faithfully and thoughtfully arrived at this point,” the Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and chair of the Transitional Leadership Council that is guiding the creation of the Global Methodist Church, said in a post on the WCA website.

“They are happy to share with others a wealth of information about a church they believe will be steeped in the lifegiving confessions of the Christian faith.”

The United Methodist Church’s General Conference, its global decision-making body, is now scheduled to meet August 29 to September 6, 2022, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.

Delegates are expected to take up a proposal to split the denomination called the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.

The proposal negotiated by 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders from across theological divides, would create a new conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denomination—that’s the Global Methodist Church—that would receive $25 million over the next four years. Individual churches and annual conferences could choose to join the new entity; otherwise, they’ll remain in the existing denomination by default.

Calls to split one of the largest denominations in the United States have grown since a 2019 special session of the General Conference approved the so-called Traditional Plan strengthening its bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists.

At the time of the 2019 special session, Boyette’s WCA made clear it planned to split from the United Methodist Church if delegates to the special session had not approved Traditional Plan.

On its website, the Global Methodist Church says it similarly would move forward with a split if delegates to the General Conference meeting in 2022 do not approve the proposed protocol — or if support for the protocol wanes in the intervening year and a half.

The website describes the planned denomination as a “new church rooted in Scripture and the historic and life giving teachings of the Christian faith” and emphasizes its desire to be a global church.

It also includes downloadable versions of a proposed Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline in multiple languages.

“True to our roots, we’re a patient and methodical people,” Boyette said on the WCA website.

“We want to do our very best to help theologically conservative local churches, laity, and pastors navigate the transitional period as smoothly as possible. And then we look forward to the Global Methodist Church’s convening General Conference where we hope the duly elected delegates will find what we have done to be helpful. It will be their great task and responsibility to discern God’s will and so help all its local churches and people live fully into the body of Christ.”

Already, one group of progressive United Methodists has announced it isn’t waiting for a vote to form its own denomination.

The Liberation Methodist Connexion launched last November with a virtual worship service and introductory presentation. The LMX—which doesn’t expect members to leave their current denominations or faiths to join—stresses action over doctrine and emphasizes the full inclusion of people of all gender expressions and sexual identities, races and ethnicities, mental and physical abilities, sizes and ages.


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