AMAZING TESTIMONIES OF WHAT GOD IS DOING IN IRAN

This amazing article by Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org@DanielPipes) President of the Middle East Forum appeared in Newsweek magazine Friday, July 9th 2021.

Something religiously astonishing is taking place in Iran, where an Islamist government has ruled since 1979: Christianity is flourishing. The implications are potentially profound.

Consider some testimonials: 

David Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries stated in 2018 that “Iranians have become the most open people to the gospel.”

The Christian Broadcast Network found, also in 2018, that “Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country.” 

Shay Khatiri of Johns Hopkins University wrote last year about Iran that “Islam is the fastest shrinking religion there, while Christianity is growing the fastest.”

This trend results from the extreme form of Shi’ite Islam imposed by the theocratic regime. An Iranian church leader explained in 2019: “What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? …What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini[, the founder of the Islamic Republic]?” An evangelical pastor, formerly an Iranian Muslim, concurred as far back as 2008: “We find ourselves facing what is more than a conversion to the Christian faith. It’s a mass exodus from Islam.”

As a clandestine phenomenon, the practice of what are sometimes called Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) lacks clergy and church buildings, but instead consists of self-starting disciples and tiny house churches of four to five members each, with either hushed singing or none at all. Its lay leadership, in striking contrast to the mullahs who rule Iran, consists mainly of women.

In another contrast to the government, Iranian MBBs tend to be fervently pro-Israel. They are, explains a documentary, “bowing their knees to the Jewish Messiah—with kindled affection toward the Jewish people.” Converts have even expressed a hope to build a “resistance church” in Iran to counter regime threats to Israel.

Given the Iranian house church movement’s underground nature, estimates of its size are necessarily vague. Open Doors found 370,000 Muslim Background Believers in 2013 and 720,000 in 2020Duane Alexander Miller approximates as many as 500,000, Hormoz Shariat at least one million and GAMAAN even more than that.

The mullahs have usually responded with predictable repression that includes prohibiting Christian missionaries and Gospel preaching. The U.S. State Department reported in 2012 that “government officials frequently confiscate Christian Bibles and pressure publishing houses printing Bibles…to cease operations.” Also, Christians “reported the presence of security cameras outside their churches.”

Iranian authorities routinely arrest and jail MBBs, often for extended periods; for example, the United Nations reported in 2013 on “more than 300 Christians” who were arrested in the prior three years, mostly for vague security-related offenses. An inquiry found that “those arrested have been subjected to intensive and often abusive interrogation.”

The punishment can be severe: In 1990, for example, the Rev. Hossein Soodmand was executed for apostasy. In 2008, the government advanced legislation to impose the death penalty on anyone born to Muslim parents who converts to another faith. Indeed, “as more Iranians convert,” Khatiri notes, “their situation is getting worse.”

“You’re creating problems in the country,” an Iranian convert reported being told during a 2018 police interrogation. In this spirit, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi in 2019 spoke of his ministry’s research into conversions to Christianity, its questioning of ordinary people to explain their motives and its efforts to “counter the advocates of Christianity.” Iran’s leading Islamic seminary sees the domestic fight against Christianity as one of its top priorities, and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly once vowed to “stop Christianity in this country.” The supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, blames house churches on “Zionists and other enemies.”

Indeed Lela Gilbert and Arielle Del Turco argue that the regime considers Christianity “an existential threat.” And it should, notes Reza Safa, the Iranian-born founder of Nejat TV (“ministering to Muslims living in Farsi-speaking nations”), who titled a book The Coming Fall of Islam in Iran. He sees Iran’s Christians as “an army of God” who are bringing Iran to “the brink of another revolution, this time orchestrated” by a Christian spirit.

If this analysis is even partially correct, the consequences are enormous. The collapse of Khomeini’s regime would not only fundamentally alter the balance of power in the Middle East; it would also likely terminate the region-wide Islamist surge that Iranian revolutionaries forwarded in 1978-79, ending the malign historical cycle that largely began in Iran.

THE UNSTOPPABLE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

In the Book of Acts the Gospel bearers face threats, persecution, imprisonment, internal conflict, theological controversy, litigation, storms and shipwreck, but none of these impede the Gospel’s progress. The Gospel is the powerful instrument the Holy Spirit uses to produce believers – in Jerusalem, Samaria, Cyprus, Lystra, Derbe (city of Galatia) and throughout Europe. In rural areas (Acts 14) and philosophical centres (Acts17), the Gospel is equally at home, with the Holy Spirit revealing the truth of the Gospel.

All three persons of God are involved in redeeming mankind: God the Father, Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit

Luke gives us statistical summaries to show the growth of the church (Acts 2:41; 4:4) and comments throughout on the health of the Word. In Chapter 6, when dissension breaks out in the church, Luke tells us ‘the word of God continued to increase and spread’ (v.7). In Chapter 12 when Herod has James killed, the word’s health is contrasted with Herod’s wormy death (v.24). In Chapter 19 when people burnt their magic scrolls to ash, the Word, he says, ‘continued to increase and prevail mightily’ (v.20).

If the title of the book of Acts were to be changed, I would suggest a title which included ’the unstop-ability of God’s Gospel’. What a refreshing encouragement to read this Holy Spirit-inspired book and be reminded that God’s purpose prevails.

“The purpose of God is to glorify himself by saving a people of his own, through hearing and believing the Gospel of his Son, as it is carried to the world by his Holy Spirit-empowered people”.

This abbreviated and slightly modified inspiring article by David Cook is from AP – Reformed Thought for Christian Living

A WORLD GONE MAD – NOTHING IS THE NEW SOMETHING

THE ART WORLD

Just when we thought it couldn’t get crazier… The most egregious example of speculative excess in the art world… $18,000 for ‘air and spirit’… Signing up to get nothing in the financial realm… Ignorance is not a valid excuse… We’re living in the ‘Age of the Emperor’.

For the past year and a half, collectors have been paying outrageous prices for some truly weird works… first, a banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000 in Miami back in December 2019. Then, this past March, an artist known as “Beeple” sold a non-fungible token (“NFT”) of his work – a digital-only collage of 5,000 images – for $69 million at auction. The latest example occurred last month in Milan, Italy… Auction house Art-Rite sold a piece of work by Italian artist Salvatore Garau titled Io sono (Italian for “I am“) for $18,000. With Beeple’s NFT going for $69 million, how does a mere $18,000 sale qualify as egregious excess? The answer is simple… because Io sono doesn’t actually exist. It’s “invisible art.” It’s not there. The buyer got a whole lot of nothing for his $18,000. Instead, Garau issued a certificate of authenticity to the buyer (like the banana-and-duct-tape piece). The artist – and his piece of paper “verifying” it – said Io sono is a sculpture that consists of a 25-square-foot space and that light and climate control are optional.

You can’t sell a certificate of authenticity for something that doesn’t exist without concocting a fantastic story… Garau put together a great one. As he told one Spanish news outlet… You don’t see it, but it exists. It is made of air and spirit.

THE FINANCIAL WORLD – Information from Stansberry Research Digest – Largest USA independent financial research organisation.

Art is the flag of culture. And its excesses are frequently preceded by those in the financial realm, given as it is to stoke the fires of greed.

‘Nothing’ has been on sale in the financial markets for much of the past decade…

The most obvious example is negative-yielding sovereign debt. According to Bloomberg, $13.3 trillion of this debt is circulating around the world these days. Roughly $10 trillion of the total is the sovereign debt of countries like Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and France. (Nearly all the rest is corporate debt.) This is supposed to be the second-safest debt in the world, behind only the debt of the U.S. government. When you buy a bond trading at a negative yield, it means you’re guaranteed to get less in principal and interest at maturity than you paid for it in the first place. In other words, you’re guaranteed to lose money. You’re signing up to get nothing.

Bonds are supposed to be the “smart money”… It’s where savvy investors go to get a much safer return than the stock market. And for a $13 trillion swath of the bond market, that supposedly safer return is a little less than zero today… NothingNadaZip.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s 2020 Fact Book puts the value of the global bond market at $105.9 trillion. So negative-yielding debt – a guarantee to receive a little less than nothing for putting capital at risk – accounts for 12.5% of a massive global market.

And it’s not just bonds, either. The rational expectation for stocks is a negative average return over the next 10 to 12 years. That’s according to the work of often quoted economist John Hussman, Hussman’s return model suggests the S&P 500 is currently priced to return a 7% loss per year, on average, for the next decade. However, reality is that the market doesn’t simply tick down 7% each year for a decade. It falls 50% or more in a great washout that generally lasts somewhere between six months and two years.

Moreover, many would suggest that a great washout is about to occur or put another way the financial bubble is about to burst. In a Bloomberg interview, GMO’s Jeremy Grantham talked about his asset-management firm’s study of 330 bubbles across all asset classes. As Grantham succinctly put it… the last 12 months have been a classic finale to an 11-year bull market. And he cited plenty of data to make his point during the interview, ultimately concluding… The great bubbles by scale and significance… all accelerated late in the game and had psychological measures that could not be missed by ordinary investors. (Economists are a different matter.)

The data, like today, is always clear, just uncommercial and inconvenient for the investment industry and often psychologically impossible to see for many individuals. In other words, all of us “ordinary investors” ought to be like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who innocently blurts out that the emperor is naked. That emboldened others to say so… eventually making it impossible for the emperor himself to avoid admitting the truth.

We can all see the truth. Our only remaining task is to acknowledge it and act accordingly. But the great herd of investors just can’t do it. The herd is like the courtiers and other sycophantic hangers-on around the emperor. They’re all scared of his ire and eager to gain his favour , prompting them to proclaim the surpassing beauty of his non-existent clothes.

They’re too vested in continuing the charade to notice that doing so is an unsustainable state of affairs.

The greatest charade perhaps of all is in the cryptocurrency called Dogecoin. Dogecoin was created as a joke to make fun of cryptocurrencies being worthless, and not only has it taken off, but it’s such a success that second-level joke cryptocurrencies making fun of Dogecoin have gone to multibillion-dollar valuations. An unabashed ode to the culture of nothingness has wound up with a massive valuation… Dogecoin’s market cap peaked on May 7 at $88 billion and still sits above $32 billion today. Its value has crashed over the past six weeks. But even so, that’s still a whole lotta nothin’.

There’s no fraud going on in these instances at all. Folks are saying, “Hey, sign me up. I want nothing and I’ll pay real money for it!” Nothing is the new something.

Any sane person can see that this cannot end well. In fact, it will get so crazy that the world will be crying out for a Saviour, the scene is set for the entry of the Antichrist on to the world scene. His appearance is the most significant prophesied “end times” sign. As I have said many times before there are far more prophecies about Jesus second coming than there were of His first coming. Are you aware of these prophecies? Are you prepared for what is ahead? For Christians it is a time of intense persecution. We are already seeing the “end times” prophesied falling away in the church from the truth of God’s Word and His moral values. Wake up church, God is purifying His church. Sadly, much of the church is like the church at Laodicea which will be left behind to face God’s wrath.

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.Revelation 3:15-17

It is the Church at Philadelphia that represents the church that is raptured prior to God’s wrath being poured out with the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements.

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.Revelation 3:10-11

The Rapture of the Saints prior to God’s wrath being poured out on an unrepentant world with the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements

CHURCHES GROW UNDER PERSECUTION

A new peer-reviewed study published last month in the academic journal Sociology of Religion demonstrates that churches grow under persecution.

The study’s findings, outlined in Christianity Today by authors Nilay Saiya and Stuti Manchanda, buck conventional wisdom. In places where Christians enjoy official support from national governments, religious faith tends to decline. Conversely, Christianity spreads most successfully in countries with legal commitments to religious pluralism and in places that actively discriminate against and persecute believers.

These are the countries with the fastest growing Christian populations (the states with low/no official support for the faith are in bold): Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, UgandaRwandaMadagascarLiberia, Kenya, DR Congo, and Angola.

And here are the countries with the fastest declining Christian populations (the states with moderate/high official support for the faith are in bold): Czech RepublicBulgariaLatviaEstonia, Albania, MoldovaSerbiaGermanyLithuania, and Hungary.

Hungary, for example, is an officially Christian nation. Even still, faith is waning: Although a majority of Hungarians identify as Catholic, only 12% regularly attend church services and just 14% describe religion as “very important” in their lives.

It is worth noting, as author Rod Dreher has, Prime Minister Victor Orban’s governance in Budapest is very much aligned with politically conservative Christian views. As such, the country has passed legislation to that end.

Nevertheless, Saiya and Manchanda argue that, in pluralistic societies, where religious ideologies coexist and must compete, for lack of a better word, Christianity — untethered from politics — often flourishes. Paradoxically, they found, “state favoritism of religion inadvertently suppresses it.”

That is due to the fact that, countries that are “officially Christian,” and even in the U.S., to an extent, Christianity may become less about a convictional relationship with Jesus and instead morph into just one aspect of a citizen’s larger national identity, resulting in faith being less about personal beliefs and more about cultural tradition.

On the other hand, the Christian faith has expanded most in Asian countries, where there’s no “official” faith and pluralism has been embraced: In contrast to Europe, Christianity in Asian countries has not been in a position to receive preferential treatment from the state, and this reality has resulted in stunning Christian growth rates. The Christian faith has actually benefited by not being institutionally attached to the state, feeding its growth and vitality.

Consider the case of South Korea, which in the course of a century has gone from being a country devoid of Christianity to one of its biggest exporters. It currently ranks as the second-largest sender of missionaries, trailing only the United States.

This example illustrates well the paradox of pluralism. Because South Korea is not a Christian country, Christianity enjoys no special relationship to the state. In fact, Christianity in Korea endured the brutal persecution of Japanese colonial rule, during which churches were forcibly closed down and their properties confiscated. Indeed, the church persisted through poverty, war, dictatorship, and national crises throughout Korean history.

Since World War II, Korean Christianity has grown exponentially, with tens of thousands of churches being built and seminaries producing thousands of graduates every year. Today, about a third of the country is Christian.

Christianity also seems to flourish — as it did for the early church leaders in Acts — in places where believers face discrimination and persecution.

The faith of those facing persecution for their convictions is often deeper and more profound, because the stakes are inherently higher when it’s not in one’s cultural best interest to embrace such beliefs.

Open Doors USA, an advocacy organization tracking Christian persecution around the globe, ranks Iran as the eighth-worst place in the world for believers. Despite facing “extreme” persecution — where the government has outlawed conversion from Islam, imprisons those who evangelize, and arrests people for attending secret house churches or sharing Christian literature — it’s believed there could be at least one million Christians in the Islamic country.

A similar phenomenon is believed to be unfolding in Afghanistan, which Open Doors lists as the second-worst place to be a Christian. There is only a small number of believers in the country, where it is illegal to convert from Islam, and those who do face certain imprisonment, violence, and potentially even death. Rula Ghani, the first lady of Afghanistan, is a Maronite Christian from Lebanon.

Outside the Middle East, the world’s largest persecuted body of believers is found in China, where the communist government continually discriminates against and harms Christians.

Chinese police destroyed several church buildings earlier this year, including one where 50,000 Christians worshipped.

Much to President Xi Jinping’s chagrin, Protestant Christianity has continued to grow exponentially in China, where the government estimates some 200 million of its 1.5 billion citizens are believers.

Fenggang Yang, a sociologist of religion at Purdue University, said in 2019 he believes more Protestant Christians will live in China by 2030 than any other country in the world.

“When Communists took power in 1949, there were one million Protestants living in China, compared with 58 million in 2010 and probably around 100 million in 2019,” he said. “Despite the government’s efforts to suppress, I don’t think it will stop the growth of Christianity in China. All the evidence I have collected shows it’s undeniable; it’s already happening.”

If these numbers reveal anything to Christians, it is that believers should place their trust not in conventional wisdom, but in the often paradoxical work of the Holy Spirit.

Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky once lamented the deeply misguided belief held my many Christians “that Christ cannot reign without an earthly kingdom.”

It would be folly for the Christian to spend his or her life building an impenetrable kingdom on earth. We know from Scripture such an effort would be in vain. Psalm 46 says, “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice and the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” And, in Matthew 24, Jesus told His disciples it is His authority alone that will stand the test of time: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

In Matthew 6, Jesus warned His followers against storing up treasures on earth, “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” Instead, He told them to invest in the eternal Kingdom of God.

Our ultimate hope, redemption, and restoration comes not in the protection of the state, which is never certain, but through salvation in Jesus, with whom we are heirs to a Kingdom operating outside the space and time of this temporal world.

Article by Tré Goins-Phillips Editor of Faithwire

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES

This extremely simple presentation on a napkin outlines what church is all about, what it is designed to do and then explains what the institutional church has added which has made it extremely difficult for it to accomplish what Jesus designed for it to do.

RESPONSE OF SOME EVANGELICALS TO PERSECUTION

Many evangelicals in the USA have been anticipating some kind of confrontation with the changing social order. Crawford Griffen writes about it in his new book Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America – Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest. Over the last five years, he says, ” I’ve been writing about what might be one of the most significant trends among American evangelicals – a migration movement into the Pacific Northwest that has resulted in the formation of some very successful and increasingly influential intentional communities.

From small towns in northern Idaho, and elsewhere in the region, writers, artists and polemicists are publishing books with Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Random House, and broadcasting talk-shows on Amazon Prime. While offering different perspectives, they present a similar sense of crisis. The nation is no longer held together by common values, they explain. They argue that the teaching of evolution in public schools, the debates about abortion, gender and marriage, and the guidelines that shut down churches for reasons of public health are different fronts in a long war against Christianity. They recognize that the neutrality of the public square is an impossible ideal. They understand that politics is always about coercion. And so they proposed their solution. While, in the grand scheme of things, the believers who have migrated to the Pacific Northwest are not numerically significant – although they may number in the tens of thousands – they do project considerable soft power. Many of these believers live very visible lives. The community of several thousand members that has been established in Moscow, Idaho, for example, supports a publishing house, a music conservatory and an impressive liberal arts college. Led by Douglas Wilson, whose many publications include a book that he co-authored with Christopher Hitchens, this community sets out to make Moscow a Christian town.

Other migrants into the region prefer more secluded lives. They are attracted by the idea that this region could form an “American Redoubt,” as James Wesley Rawles has argued, a hold-out for those who want to resist the cultural powers that be. Rawles is the author of several novels and preparedness manuals, which are published by Penguin, and his website, survivalblog.com, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every month. His work sets out a more ambitious agenda for survival and resistance, in which readers are encouraged to adopt evangelical piety while being ready, if necessary, for less spiritual forms of defensive combat. For obvious reasons, those who follow Rawles’ agenda prefer not to attract attention. But for all their differences, Wilson and Rawles agree that believers need to expect an extraordinary cultural crisis in the short to medium term, and prepare for the new world that will follow. While their tactics for dealing with opposition are sharply different, their vision of the future is much the same. Dark skies are on the horizon, but they predict huge numbers of Americans will be converted, the social and political life of the nation will be renewed, and the policy of a renewed republic will be built around the demands of biblical law. Their optimism is appealing but I don’t believe Biblical prophecies such as these two by Jesus supports this optimistic view.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.Matthew 24:21-22

I believe the Bible reveals that those Christians that adopt a praying church as it was in the Book of Acts intent on making disciples in their own communities, loving their neighbours and honouring Jesus regardless of the cost, will have the most impact for the Kingdom in these last days. The power of the Holy Spirit will be once more evident in this Home Church environment.

AWESOME TESTIMONIES

These testimonies are from people whose lives have been impacted by The Last Reformation Movement started by Torben Sondergaad. I have shared many of Torben’s videos on this site as I am sure this is one of the ministries Jesus has raised up to serve His church in these last days before He returns. Special live guests are Arjan and Annie van den Hoek from Holland now living in Curacao and Amos Shabalala and his wife Mary Ann living in Sydney Australia. Their stories are very different. However, they each share their take on how to press on and keep on serving the Lord, even when times are extremely hard or lonesome. I was particularly taken by and able to relate to the story shared by Amos and Mary Anne. As they live in Sydney, which is where I live, I will endeavour to connect with them.

BIBLE BELIEVING COUNTER-CULTURAL CHURCHES THRIVING

The most common religious identity among young adults in the U.S. is “none,” and the majority of Americans don’t believe it’s necessary for a person to believe in God to be moral and have good values, a new survey has found. The survey on American Life investigating contemporary religion in the U.S. found that among young adults (age 18 to 29), the most common religious identity today is none. More than one in three (34%) young adults are religiously unaffiliated.  Nearly nine in 10 (87%) Americans report they believe in God, but just over half (53%) report they believe in God without any doubts at all. Overall, 42% of Americans have a close social connection with someone who is religiously unaffiliated — up from 18% in 2004.
Additionally, most Americans say it’s not necessary for a person to believe in God to be moral and have good values. Close to six in 10 (59%) Americans say a belief in God is not a precondition to being moral and having good values, while 41% of the public say a belief in God is essential. These statistics, the authors say, mark a “remarkable shift in recent years. The study also found that Americans are almost equally divided over whether it is better to discuss religious beliefs and ideas with those who do not share the same perspective, and most Americans have never been invited to church. A majority (54%) of Americans say they have not been asked to participate in a religious service in the past 12 months or have never been asked.

The survey corroborates a 2019 Pew Study survey that documented the decline of Christians and rise of religiously unaffiliated. Pew noted that the religiously unaffiliated group rose to 22.8% share of the population in 2014, eclipsing the number of Catholics in America, who fell to 20.8%. Christians as a whole fell from 78.4 to 70% of the population between 2007 to 2014, with every major group experiencing a decline. Similarly, the 2018 General Social Survey found that the number of religious “nones” in the U.S. are now statistically equal to the number of evangelicals. Ryan Burge, a political science researcher at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed data from the survey, told The Christian Post that the religious “‘none’s’ are not slowing down.”

THE GOOD NEWS

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, previously said the “increasing strangeness” of Christianity is actually “good news” for the church. “Christianity isn’t normal anymore. It never should have been. The increasing strangeness of Christianity might be bad news for America, but it’s good news for the church. The major newspapers are telling us today that Christianity is dying, according to this new study, but what is clear from this study is exactly the opposite: while mainline traditions plummet, evangelical churches are remaining remarkably steady,” Moore said.

He added that statistics indicate there are honest atheists in America today, and that they are rejecting what’s called “almost-Christianity,” or traditions that “jettison the historic teachings of the Church as soon as they become unfashionable.” “The churches that are thriving are the vibrant, counter-cultural congregations that aren’t afraid to not be seen as normal to the surrounding culture. This report actually leaves me hopeful. The Bible Belt may fall. So be it,” he continued. “Christianity emerged from a Roman Empire hostile to the core to the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah. We’ve been on the wrong side of history since Rome, and it was enough to turn the world upside down.”

GOD’S WORD IS INERRANT

DISCIPLESHIP – AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST

Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?” It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

Disciples today would do well to remember that they run the risk of uselessness in the Lord’s mission if they relegate themselves to the shelf and not, in appropriate ways, apply themselves in the very contexts in need of their salty presence (that is, salty as defined here in Matthew’s gospel).

The disciple’s presence is required throughout the earth, especially in those areas running the risk of spoiling or in the bland corners in need of life-giving flavor. In fact, it is precisely in the unsavory and/or rotting contexts where salt is most necessary.

Following this salty comment, Jesus introduces another word picture:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Notice that both here and in the instruction given about salt earlier that the entire world is in view. Jesus tells his disciples they are the “salt of the earth” and here he says that they “are the light of the world” With this big picture in mind Jesus continues by suggesting that the light given off by a city set on a hill is fairly conspicuous to the surrounding areas that are more in the dark. Light from such a city is an especially powerful presence amid darkness, providing illumination, perspective, and, perhaps, guidance to those in the darkness. Disciples have not been given the light of Christ (John 1:4; 8:12) to keep for themselves or to only turn on in the safety of their carefully insulated spheres of influence. Instead, Jesus demands:

Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Those who need to see this will not happen upon life and truth-giving light by accident. Light must shine where it can be seen (in the shadows) so that those in the dark might be directed to the Father in heaven and potentially bring him glory. Unfortunately, many are choosing to shine their light only in well-lit and more comfortable areas, neglecting, as Jesus encourages here, to shine what they have been given where it is most needed—in the darkness.

Peter provides a good summary for us: we are ambassadors that need to proclaim His excellencies, His Gospel. Our conduct must be above reproach and we do good deeds so that God is glorified.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:9-12

REPORT ON KENYA HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT

As you may already know God connected me to several pastors in Kenya who are followers of Living Eternal Now. They believe as I do that the church in the “last days” will be like the church described in the Book of Acts. The following is a report provided by Pastor Charles Otieno Owino on their activities for 2020. I and several of my followers have provided funds for several projects to support the growth of this community and I hope more of you will consider joining us in this missional work. I have added a donation icon on my Home Page for that purpose. Moreover, I hope some of you will begin to communicate directly with members of the KHC.

2020 Report on Kenya House Church Movement

Here at KHC, we endeavour to make disciples for Jesus Christ in fulfilment of the great commission that Jesus Christ gave us in Mathew 28:19. The disciples made, are put in house church groups (Ekklesia). No buildings neither nor paid pastors.

FINISHING WELL 2020, EXPECTING WHAT GOD HOLDS FOR US IN 2021: 2020 was a big year for us here at KHC, God has been gracious to us, and every place we have visited, we have been able to receive a positive outcome despite  some few challenges that came our way, such as strong opposition  from the religious leaders. But we were able to sail through and we give God the glory.

APPRECIATION TO THE FOUNDER OF LEN, RON EDWARDS & TEAM MEMBERS.

We hope the LEN team is also blessed by being part of the KHC movement, all through the year 2020 and since God has placed us together in the work of ministry. We(KHC) are very much thankful to the founder of LEN and his colleagues in the work of ministry, and we appreciate you all for standing behind us in prayers. 

We are very much thankful to all those who have been faithful in giving their financial support to help expand the KHC movement to ensure it becomes strongly established here in Kenya.

KHC 2020 OVERVIEW PROGRESS:

We are honored to share with you an overview of our progress in 2020. It has been the most successful year since KHC was founded in 2010, upon the revelation of  God’s word, and prayers.

1) House Church Groups: Numbers are important to and through our numeric increase we have been able to start eight house church groups in 4 different sub-counties within the Republic of Kenya.

NAMES OF 8 CHURCH GROUPS & REGIONS FOUND:

– Mubachi in Migori region (Charles’s home church group)
– Buembu in Migori region.
– Kokendi in Migori region.
– Bondo in Migori region.
– Ong’er in Nyatike region (Alfred’s home church group)
– Ndhiwa in the Homa-Bay region.
– Karungu in Nyatike region.
– Opapo in Rongo  region.

A newly founded group of believers at Kogaja in Busia region near the border of Kenya and Uganda is still undergoing our foundational teachings. Come 2021, an elder and a church group pastor will be appointed from among them, to head the church group, to enable it to be a fully functioning house church group.

In Tanzania, God is giving us a breakthrough; a wide door is opened to the KHC team so come February 2021, two new church groups will be started in Mwanza and Nyamuzi in the Republic of Tanzania. We expect exciting additions in 2021 and it is our hope and prayers that 2021, KHC team will be able to take the gospel to places we could not visit in 2020.

NUMBER OF CHURCH GROUPS MEMBERS:

In 2020, we have witnessed a rapid increase of Church group members than in the previous years.
Many lives have been reached for Jesus Christ. An additional 3 church groups were founded.

The total number of our church group members in the 8 church groups has increased from 220 in 2018/2019 up to 300 in 2020.

2)DISCIPLE SHIP & EVANGELISM CAMPAIGNS:

-Evangelism and discipleship, is the heart of KHC movement, here at KHC.
The evangelism team led by pastor Jacob, has been able to lead our team, visiting several places ministering, in market places, hospitals, prisons, schools. And visiting marginalized families and destitute children, sharing with them the love of God and leading them to Jesus Christ.

In the past 12 months, KHC team members have been able to visit 24 secondary schools, 30 homes, 10 prisons cells, 15 hospitals, 25 market places, and ministered to 120 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

3) TRAINING THE TRAINERS:

In 2020, KHC have been able to teach and give training to 4 members, from all our church groups, after every six months.And after undergoing our training manual, they are being sent out to various places as ambassadors for Jesus Christ, with the sole reason of making disciples, and starting a house church group. Currently, some of our two brothers were in Tanzania and just came back to us 5 days ago and reported about the need to start up the two church groups, mentioned above.

4) WEEKLY BIBLE STUDIES:

Here at KHC,we have a weekly Bible study, whereby church group members meet once a week to pray and search the scriptures.

5) EMPOWERING THE POOR:

In 2019 to date, KHC initiated an empowering program to help support the widows, orphans, and the needy members in the KHC movement. Every church group has the freedom to start its own income-generating projects, such as crop farming, vegetable growing, dairy keeping, shopkeeping, poultry keeping, second-hand clothing business etc, this is to help support our church group members to become financially stable.

2021 KHC PLANS:

1) Zoom meetings:

In 2021, KHC, has a plan to buy a large TV screen and a computer, to help KHC, join other parachurch organizations in holding zoom meetings. This will help KHC, to learn and share end time signs of Jesus second coming,and other teachings pertaining to the last day’s church.

2) Discipleship & Evangelism:

In 2021, KHC movement has a plan to expand its discipleship making programme and evangelism campaigns to other places, and territories, moving outside the 4 sub-counties.

3) Bible study programme.

In 2021, KHC has a plan to open a KHC library, where a number of books from the recommended parachurch organizations can be sourced. This will help our church group members, be able to learn and understand from different authors about the last day’s church, prophetic end times signs of Jesus second coming, living eternal now, kingdom business, etc.

Income generating projects:

KHC in 2021 is planning to open up a medical facility/laboratory where church group members,and other people from the neighborhood communities can come for a medical check-up, and treatment, the minimal and affordable fee, paid will be used for the financial stability and physical growth of the KHC movement.

2021 KHC GOALS:

KHC’s goals is to flood the nation Kenya with the gospel, and moving out and enter new territories with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For 2021, KHC’s prime goal is to reach out to 500 people with the gospel and start-up 5 more house church groups based on Biblical foundation.

This is a God-sized blessing from Ron Edwards, founder of LEN, and all the brethren who have helped to contribute by prayers and finances in 2020. Thank you all, you are a significant part of our success in growing the KHC movement in Kenya.
Respectfully,
Charles Otieno Owino.