Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs

Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs

Image: Anto Akkara – Catholic leader Paul Simick surveys wreckage of Pentecostal church in Kathmandu.

Maili Tamang clapped and sang along as the remnants of her husband’s Kathmandu church gathered for a noon prayer one week after a massive earthquake collapsed the “roof of the world.”
Injured pastor Jacob Tamang prays with survivors at Vision of Salvation church.

Image: Anto Akkara Injured pastor – Jacob Tamang prays with survivors at Vision of Salvation church.

“In God’s time, anything can happen,” the 55-year-old mother told CT. Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church, which rented rooms in a four-story commerical building in the Swayambu area of Nepal’s capital, collapsed with 62 worshipers present. Seventeen members of the Pentecostal church, where Tamang’s husband served as an elder, died, including senior pastor Elia Ghale and his son.

“We cannot decide our future or what happens to us,” she said, surrounded by cracked walls. “Even after the world, we will be with God.”

Family of Maila Tamang mourns Saturday.

Image: Anto Akkara – Family of Maila Tamang mourns Saturday.

Tamang was worshiping at a nearby Pentecostal church when the quake struck.

“I was standing in a row near to the wall and praying when the trembling started. The pastor continued the prayer and suddenly, everything collapsed,” she told CT. “I was half conscious and could heard people screaming. After one hour I was pulled out. While lying there, I knew God would save me.”

Meanwhile, pledging to spread God’s love “even though earthquakes come,” a small evangelical church in Nepal completed on Saturday its worship song interrupted by last week’s natural disaster in the Himalayan Mountains.

Maili Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church collapsed.

Image: Anto Akkara – Maili Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church collapsed.

The first-hand account from the International Mission Board is one of many reports surfacing of how Nepal’s Christian minority is regrouping after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake collapsed many churches during their main weekly worship services.

Reporting by CT in Kathmandu reveals that an accurate tally of churches destroyed and Christians killed remains hard to come by, since anecdotal reports can be duplicated or exaggerated. But it is clear that many Christians died in their churches during weekly prayers. (The Baptist World Alliance reports about 150 Christian deaths have been confirmed.)

“I am getting reports of entire Christian families being wiped out in Kathmandu and outside,” Simon Pandey, chairman of the National Christian Fellowship of Nepal, told CT in an interview from his home in a Lalitpur suburb.

If the quake had occurred half an hour earlier, he noted, the casualties in churches would have been much higher. (Many Hindus died during worship services also.)

The wreckage of Elssadai church in Kathmandu.

Image: Global Mission Nepal – The wreckage of Elssadai church in Kathmandu.

“The evangelical churches have suffered terrible tragedies,” Kala Bahadur Rokaya, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal, told CT. “It will take time to count the deaths among Christians across Nepal. Many areas are still cut off.” He feared more bad news was yet to come from mountainous and remote districts such as Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, and Nuwakot, which have many evangelical churches.

Of Nepal’s Christians—which comprise between one and three percent of the country’s 30-million population—Protestants were disproportionately affected by the disaster, a Catholic leader told CT.

A destroyed Nepalese church.

Image: Thir K.C. – A destroyed Nepalese church.

The earthquake, which killed more than 6,000 people, damaged dozens of churches in and around Kathmandu, Nepal’s largest city. A partner of Wycliffe Associates filmed the aftermath.“The Catholics were lucky as we don’t have church prayers at noon,” Bishop Paul Simick told CT as he observed the wreckage of Vision of Salvation church. (CBN News also reports on the tragedy.)

(Article from Christianity Today by Morgan Lee at http://www.christianitytoday.com/)

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Zhejiang Authorities Remove Cross, Continue Persecution Campaign

lishui cross(Lishui, Zhejiang–May 4, 2015) Zhejiang authorities continued the province-wide persecution campaign against registered and unregistered Protestant and Catholic churches on April 23 when they removed the cross topping a Protestant church in Longquan neighborhood in the city of Lishui.

Local reports state that more than 100 police officers and demolition specialists were dispatched to the church, whose registration status is unknown, at 3 a.m. on April 23. A local Christian told China Aid that many church members stood outside the church after learning of the ongoing demolition and prayed. By 5 a.m., the cross had been removed.

When a China Aid reporter contacted the church, the church member who answered the phone declined to answer questions, saying it was “not appropriate” and that he couldn’t “answer … questions directly.”

This cross removal comes after three other cross demolitions in Zhejiang in the month of April.

“One thing I’m sure of is that the authorities in Zhejiang are taking down crosses again, and they are doing it everywhere,” Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, said. “From Ningbo to Lishui, they have begun to remove crosses. I believe the statement made by the central government that they will stop demolishing churches in Zhejiang is a lie. Local officials taking down Christian crosses is persecution of Christianity.”

China Aid reports on cases such as these cross demolitions in order to expose the abuse encountered by religious practitioners in China.

 

(Article from China Aid by Rachel Ritchie at http://www.chinaaid.org)

Cuban Churches Thriving Despite Incredible Poverty

As relations between the United States and Cuba begin to thaw a surprising spiritual reality is emerging, the Cuban Church is thriving.

In the midst of opposition and incredible poverty, Cuban Baptists, Assemblies of God, and other denominations are reporting amazing growth in their churches throughout the country.

In the past 20 years, Baptist churches have grown from several hundred to more than 7,000. Assemblies of God churches that once numbered less than 100 members now have more than 10,000 church comers proclaiming the Gospel.

“The Church not only survived, but in the midst of those pressures and difficulties it grew. It grew solid,” Cuban Pastor Moises De Prado said.

At the core of Cuba’s church growth are house churches springing up across the island.

Back in the 1990s, the Cuban government told churches they could not build any new buildings. Consequently, church growth became very, very easy, as Christians simply began meeting in homes.

Surprisingly, many also believe that Cuba’s poverty has fueled its church growth.  With many Cubans existing on less than $30 a month, there’s simply not the money to pursue entertainment, hobbies or other pursuits that would pull them from the Gospel.

“One church leader told me, ‘That is one of the reasons that church members spend so much time in church activities.  They can spend more time evangelizing their neighbors because they’re not distracted by a lot of material goods,” CBN News Producer Stan Jeter said.

Church leaders say one fruit of all this growth is an emerging missions movement in Cuba.

Hundreds of believers are considering or planning to head overseas as missionaries. Given their single-minded focus and long-term experience with hardship, they may be uniquely qualified to travel to new lands to spread the Gospel.

(Article from CBN by Heather Sells at http://www.cbn.com)

Former Bible College Of Wales Set To Re-open After Major Refurbishment

9926792-largeTHE former Bible College of Wales is set to re-open next month, following major refurbishment.

The venue in Derwen Fawr was founded in 1924, but its last pupils graduated in 2009, and since then has seen a development of housing on part of its land.

But the restored building will once again be used a bible school, prayer centre, hall of residence and church.

The refurbishment has been carried out by Cornerstone Community Church, an independent Pentecostal congregation based in Singapore, which bought the property in 2012 to honour the work of British missionaries in Singapore, and to ‘preserve the history of revival associated with the site’.

Church founder Reverend Yang Tuck Yoong said: “Wales is undoubtedly the nation of revivals. No other nation on the planet has seen more revivals, with the possible exception of Israel. The revival that broke forth in Wales in 1904 is of special importance because of the power and influence it generated.”The Christians in Singapore are indebted to the missionaries from the UK who brought us the gospel. Redeeming and re-establishing this Bible College, is our way of expressing gratitude for what we’ve received, and faith for the things god will do through this college.

“We are working with the local body of Welsh believers to re-establish the collect in its original commission of intercession and equipping the saints for the mission field, and we believe that this will precipitate a spiritual awakening in Wales. This could be a sign to the Welsh that their time has come yet again to make an impact in the nations beyond their shores with the power of the gospel.”

The college is due to re-open on May 25, exactly 85 years after the College’s inaugural dedication on Whit Monday in 1930, and is expected to be attended by former students.

It will start accepting students from autumn.

It’s aim it to produce men and women with leadership and ministry skills, with a three month course with more than ten lecturers from different countries.

Principal Rev Dr Colin Hurt said: “One vision that the college’s original founder, Rees Howells, was that the whole world could be reached with the gospel in his generation. He did not live to see that vision fulfilled, but I believe that we can pick up that vision, and see it become a reality.

“That was the vision of the Bible College of Wales, and that is the vision.”

Information about the college can be found at: http://bcwales.org/

(Article from South Wales Evening Post by SWEPnino at http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/)

What Does the Bible Say About Same Sex Marriage?

gay-rights-picWhile the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

The Bible alone, however, does not have to be used to demonstrate this understanding of marriage. The biblical viewpoint of marriage has been the universal understanding of marriage in every human civilization in world history. History argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children. Psychology argues against gay marriage. In nature/physicality, clearly, men and women were designed to “fit” togetheriowa_marriage_answer_2_xlarge sexually. With the “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse being procreation, clearly only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. Nature argues against gay marriage.

So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman—why is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labeled as hateful, intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of—or at least far less opposed to—gay couples having all the same legal rights as married couples with some form of civil union?

The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural, and the only way to suppress this inherent knowledge is by normalizing homosexuality and attacking any and all opposition to it. The best way to normalize homosexuality is by placing gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional opposite-gender marriage. Romans 1:18-32 illustrates this. The truth is known because God has made it plain. The truth is rejected and replaced with a lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed and attacked. The vehemence and anger expressed by many in the gay rights movement to any who oppose them is, in fact, an indication that they know their position is indefensible. Trying to overcome a weak position by raising your voice is the oldest trick in the debating book. There is perhaps no more accurate description of the modern gay rights agenda than Romans 1:31, “they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

To give sanction to gay marriage/same-sex marriage would be to give approval to the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently condemns as sinful. Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong and logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts completely separated from the Bible. One does n491770_1_ftcot have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.

According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). As Christians, when we make a stand for truth and the result is personal attacks, insults, and persecution, we should remember the words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

Recommended Resources: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Things You Must Know About What’s Really at Stake by Erwin Lutzer and Logos Bible Software.

(Article taken from Gotquestion.org at http://www.gotquestions.org/gay-marriage.html)

Reinhard Bonnke, Evangelist Who Clashed With Muslims in Africa to Win Millions of Converts for Christ to Get Lifetime Award for Global Ministry

Reinhard Bonnke

Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, 75.

Reinhard Bonnke, a longtime and once hardline global evangelist who clashed with Muslims in Africa to win millions of converts for Christ on the continent, is set to get a Lifetime Global Impact award at the Global Congress of Empowered21 in Jerusalem for his trailblazing ministry next month.

Bonnke will be honored alongside other veteran evangelists Morris Cerullo, Jack Hayford, Marilyn Hickey, David Manise, and Vinson Synan at the 2015 Global Congress to be held May 20-25. Empowered21 seeks to push a “Global Spirit-empowered movement throughout the world by focusing on crucial issues facing the movement and connecting generations for intergenerational blessing and impartation,” according to the organization’s website. This is the first time the organization will hand out lifetime awards.

All have served the Lord in various avenues and were chosen because they are “Spirit-empowered ministry leaders who have made a huge impact in the world. They have also shown a desire to invest in the next generation or implement a ministry succession plan,” Jeremy Burton of Empowered21 told The Christian Post.

“Reinhard Bonnke has totally dedicated himself to soul-winning for 50 years now. He has a laser-sharp focus on winning souls. Through his ministry, Christ for All Nations, over 73 million people have made registered decisions to follow Jesus Christ. To be recognized and honored by the Christian community for this service is an honor for which we give the glory to God,” a Christ for All Nations spokeswoman told CP.

Bonnke founded Christ for All Nations, which has offices in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and Germany. Since its founding 35 years ago, the organization has documented over 55 million people who’ve chosen to give their lives to Jesus Christ as of 2000.

Bonnke’s decision to serve the world, particularly Africa, came while he was still a boy in Germany. He gave his life to Christ at the age of 9, after being convicted about sin. One year later he felt the need to spread the Gospel in Africa. “Night after night, I saw the entire African continent, washed in the blood of Jesus, country after country,” Bonnke said, according to his bio on Christ for All Nations.

But ministry in Africa has not been without peril for Bonnke. In 1991, after he tried to hold a gathering in Kano, Nigeria, Muslim extremists burned down Christian churches and killed several Christians and forced Bonnke out of the country for nine years.

Christ for All NationsChrist for All Nations Gospel Crusade in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014.

“‘Africa shall be saved.’ I heard God’s message so clearly. In response, my family moved from Lesotho to South Africa in 1974. But how was Africa going to be saved? Clueless, I sat with my head in my hands. As unknowns, we moved out into the unknown, with no prospects mapped out for us, hoping for further instruction from the Lord. And sure enough, God spoke again. I was to rent the National Stadium in Gaborone, Botswana, for a Gospel crusade,” Bonnke wrote in a piece for Ministry Today.

In 2000, he attempted to return to Nigeria but decided against visiting the northern reigion, which was primarily Muslim after the Islamic leaders known as the Council of Ulama issued death threats against him and members of his team. It wasn’t until 2001 that he finally returned at the request of elected president Olusegun Obasanjo and delivered a powerful message that led thousands to Christ.

“My full attention is on Africa,” Bonnke said at the time. “I have no message of hate. I do not attack any religion. I just preach Jesus.”

Rou Jarvis, a Southern Baptist missionary in Lagos, told Christianity Today that Bonnke was very bold with his message.

“He’s very confrontational with Islam, and that’s not good. If I’m going to win someone to Christ, I’m not going to tell them first that their faith is wrong,” said Jarvis.

Ann Buwalda, president of the Jubilee Campaign which promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities around the world, told CP that Bonnke works much smarter now and he continues to win many souls for Christ.

“His impact has sometimes been provocative to Islamic extremist communities. I don’t think he’s been, for example, in northern Nigeria since riots were created, but outside of that, I would say that his crusades are well-known, and he has a large following of committed people who appreciate his ministry and his work throughout Africa. I am not aware in recent years that there have been any altercations surrounding his holding of crusades, so it seems to me that he is actually avoiding conflict areas,” said Buwalda.

Bonnke is often compared to famed evangelist Billy Graham for his work throughout Africa, and is described by pastor George Amu of the Good News Bible Church in Lagos as a “superstar.”

“Signs, miracles and wonders happen when he preaches,” said Amu.

Tom Osanjo, a reporter with UN-HABITAT, agrees with Amu’s assessment of Bonnke.

Bonnke is “very big” in Kenya he told CP. Christ for All Nations held its last crusade in the country in 2013. And he has been a “frequent visitor to Kenya for many years. There has not been a public threat to his crusades because the anti-Christian movement among some Muslims is fairly recent,” said Osanjo, recalling various reported miracles that followed his crusades.

“Bonnke and his ministry have been known for miraculous healings and conversions. Most of his meetings see people testifying of being healed of HIV/AIDS, paralysis and all manners of sickness,” said Osanjo.

“The Bible instructs us to give honor to whom honor is due,” said William M. Wilson, president and global co-chair of Empowered21, said in a statement. “It is with great joy that we present awards to these forefathers of the Spirit-empowered movement. The collective ministries of these giants of the faith have transformed the lives of millions of people. We are deeply thankful for their legacies and invite all their friends from around the world to join us in Jerusalem to celebrate their contribution to God’s work.”

(Article from The Christian Post by Sami K. Martin at http://www.christianpost.com.)