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The pope’s imminent visit to Israel will rightly attract much attention; but 2 largely untold stories about global Christianity have the capacity to shake the world order.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis. Photo: REUTERS

The pope’s imminent visit to Israel will rightly attract much attention. But two largely untold stories about global Christianity have the capacity to shake the world order.

The first is the persecution of Christians in the developing world at the hands of Islam. Boko Haram, which has kidnapped more than 250 Christian schoolgirls in Nigeria, is merely one of many Islamist groups increasingly terrorizing and killing Christians across the developing world.

According to Open Doors, a nondenominational Christian group, about 100 million Christians are being persecuted in more than 65 countries, with radical Muslims the main perpetrators in 36 of them.

In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been attacked, murdered, and driven out. In December 2013, at least 1,000 Christians were killed in the Central African Republic. In February this year, jihadists bombed churches in Zanzibar as “dens of non-believers.” In March, members of Somalia’s al-Shabaab militia publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin after discovering they were Christians.

The same month in Nigeria, more than 150 Christians were butchered in a massacre in Kaduna; this week, hundreds died in bomb attacks in the Christian areas of the towns of Kano and Jos.

In Sudan, Christians have been hacked to death for refusing to convert to Islam or burned alive inside their churches.

Last week, a pregnant mother was sentenced to death there for allegedly converting to Christianity. In Eritrea, more than 3,000 Christians are in prison. In Iran, Christians are being jailed and thousands have fled. There are countless other examples.

Remarkably, however, Western mainstream churches largely ignore this carnage amongst their worldwide communion.

Instead, they appease Islam and vilify Israel, the one country in the Middle East where Christians are safe (but that’s another story).

One wonders whether the pope will speak out clearly against this Christian victimization when he meets representatives of Islam on his visit to what he calls the Holy Land. He reportedly wants to heal the fissure between Jews and Palestinians. Very nice; but surely his priority should be stopping the slaughter of his own flock.

Yet here’s the really extraordinary thing. Across the developing world, including countries where Christians are being persecuted, the churches are experiencing phenomenal growth. If trends persist, Europe’s Christians will be overtaken by those in Africa, Latin America and Asia, most of the growth driven by the astounding expansion of Pentecostal, Charismatic and other evangelical churches.

In his book The Next Christendom; The Coming of Global Christianity, Philip Jenkins writes that, since 1965, the Christian population of Africa has risen from a quarter of the total to about 46 percent.

In Nigeria, Christian rallies draw between one and three million people. In Ethiopia, the church has some 25 million members. Churches are expanding in Niger, Burkina Faso, Toga, Benin, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, Chad.

In Latin America, Christian numbers have exploded; they will reach an estimated 640 million by 2025. In Rio de Janeiro, no fewer than 700 Pentecostal churches opened during a three-year period in the early 1990s. The Jotabeche Methodist Pentecostal cathedral in Santiago, Chile, can seat 18,000 people.

In Iran, of all places, the churches are experiencing the fastest expansion in the world with estimated annual growth rates of more than 20 percent. According to some sources, the number of Iranian evangelicals has grown from a few hundred in 1979 to more than five million today.

It’s even happening in China. Mao expelled Christian missionaries and predicted that “colonialist” Christianity would disappear. Yet from a total of 900,000 then, Chinese Christians have now grown to at least 80 million.

One reason for such growth is that people who have suffered from repressive regimes are turning to a religion which (thanks to its Jewish roots) underpins freedom and human rights. The more barbaric Islamic regimes become, the more people turn to Christianity. Just a few years ago Algeria, for example, had around 1,500 Christians; under its repressive Islamist government, their numbers have swelled to nearly 200,000.

The striking feature of these new Christians is that, because they are evangelicals and thus take very seriously what is written in the Bible, they devoutly support Israel.

Algerian Christians say they pray in secret for Israel and the Jewish people. Last year, Nigeria refused to vote automatically with the Palestinians on statehood in the UN Security Council.

Westerners may feel uncomfortable about these new churches since they emphasize healing, prophecy, visions, ecstatic utterances and the supernatural. But they are amongst Israel’s best friends in the world. And their amazing growth has major global implications.

In the West, Christianity is in decline. Even in the US where the churches are still relatively strong, the culture war is being lost to the forces of galloping secularism. With the Islamic world exploiting this civilizational vacuum, Britain and Europe are steadily being Islamized. At same time, the developing world is becoming Christianized. The face of Christianity is thus changing color, from white to (its original) brown and black.

This growth is a huge opportunity for Israel because these new Christians are free from the poisonous hostility towards it of the Western churches. Encouragingly, Israel has come to view these new allies as a strategic asset, but it needs to invest in them much more, helping improve their economies and living standards, to cement this friendship and use it to transform Israel’s leverage at the UN.

It’s not true that time is running out for Israel. Time is running out for the West. It’s not true that Israel is friendless.

It has many friends. Just different ones. And it has to nurture them more carefully.

This pope seems also to be a friend, apparently wanting to put relations between the Vatican and the Jewish people onto a different footing. The ugly protests at his visit from ultra-Orthodox hooligans are sickening. Let’s hope Israel hugs Pope Francis close.

Melanie Phillips is a columnist for
The Times (UK).

Inspiration

Need a little inspiration to tackle the day?  

There are times in everyone’s life when we feel knocked down or a bit short on faith.  For anyone feeling like they just can’t keep on keeping on, here is a video that will inspire you to preserver regardless of your circumstances.

www.youtube.com/embed/qiLDMBDPCEY?rel=0

Non-Essential Gray Wolves

Non-Essential Gray Wolves:

gray wolfIn 1995, the US transported a small group of gray wolves from Alberta, Canada to Yellowstone National Park.  The idea was to repopulate the cascading landscape with the species, which had been absent for more than 70 years.  Officially, 1926 was the year that the last gray wolves were killed within Yellowstone’s boundaries.  With the wolves gone and hunting of all types eliminated, the elk population boomed.

The reintroduction of these gray wolves was considered experimental as wolves were considered a non-essential population per article 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The key word here is “non-essential.”  A classification of this type gave government officials greater leeway in managing the gray wolves to protect local livestock.  This designation of gray wolves as “non-essential” to the area was considered one of a series of compromises that wolf reintroduction proponents made with concerned local ranchers.  Without belaboring the history, this was the result…

As the population of the gray wolves grew, the elks stopped grazing in the valleys.  With the elk gone, eventually the Aspen trees began to grow.  As the Aspen grew, the wild birds returned to build their nests throughout the trees.  As the trees grew into a dense forest, the beaver colonies returned to build dams which created better fish, reptile and waterfowl habitats.  These in turn created a fertile feeding ground for other wild animals bringing muskrats, moles, otters and bears.

Eventually, the wolves reduced the coyote populations, which caused an increased to other mammal species such as red tail foxes, hawks, ravens, the endangered bald eagles and mountain goats.

The increased roaming populations of animals back and forth across the rivers and streams caused the banks to collapse, which began to change the course of the rivers.  As wolf populations grew, they continued to migrate.  The reintroduction of this “non-essential” animal group has not only transformed the face of Yellowstone Park but neighboring, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana as well.

So, what’s all this have to do with bibles you might ask….?  Well, simply this, if the reintroduction of gray wolves can change the course of rivers as well as every other facet of nature in 15 short years, then image what a bible can do to a world that has gone and continually goes violently crazy.  The killing of innocent hostages, pregnant women, their children and the blowing up of malls only breeds anxiety, fear and hatred.  The sowing of one-bible breeds hope, peace and love.  One bible may seem a small thing but so was the reintroduction of a “non-essential” gray population.

Perception Is Not Reality

Perception Is Not Reality:

Perception is Not Reality - Escher Staircase We recently received an email complaining that we were asking some people to help cover the cost of shipping.  The email went on to say that we were advertising Free bibles and then doing a bait and switch by suggesting that they cover the shipping costs.  Honestly, this email caught me off guard.  When my wife and I started Bible Senders back in 2007 – 2008, we sent out bibles and covered all of the costs ourselves.  Since them we have grown considerably and thanks to the gifts and offering of our partners, we now cover between 90% – 95% of the costs.  We are not millionaires or some large philanthropic organization but rather 2 everyday people with a calling, who work regular 9-5 jobs and also run an online vitamin business to help do it.  I could joke and say in our spare time we raise our seven kids and run Bible Senders but most of our kids are out on their own and out of the house (Thank God).  But honestly, Bible Senders, which is now in 48 countries takes a fair amount of effort to pull off.  To give you  an idea, running Bible Senders requires sending and receiving bibles, tracking who donates what (bibles, christian books, bible covers, finances), sending them their tax credits, maintaining books for the IRS, developing and maintaining the website, blogs, online articles, answering emails, as well as FaceBook and Tweets from all over the world.   Well, you get my point, life can get a bit busy.  We are exited to say that some great volunteers have stepped up to help out but such a disheartening email can bring the whole room down.

So, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can.  We love what we do.  We like the emails we get from those who receive a bible.  We like hearing that we are answers to their prayers.  I understand that many people can’t afford to buy a bible and I also understand that many of those can’t afford to send even $1.00 to help off-set the costs of shipping.  I get it.  However, for those of you who complain and misjudge us for asking for donations, I invite you to step up and walk a mile in our shoes.  In fact, the need for bibles is so great, I encourage you to start a Bible Senders of your own.  I can guarantee that by the end of the day most will not feel the same, let alone after 6-years.  For those who do and have stepped up and help support Bible Senders, thank you so very much.

Again, if you want a bible, we are sticking to our mission and are happy to send a bible free of charge to anyone who asks anywhere in the world.  If you want multiple bibles we are just as happy to send them but be fore-warned, don’t get offended if we ask you to help pay for shipping.  BTW, if you want to pay more that the shipping amount to help us send out more bibles, we are ok with that too.

Blessings,

Robert

Operation Newsletter

Operation Newsletter:

Shipping Bibles - Operation NewsletterWith a solid team effort, Operation Newsletter came together.  We managed to get our 1st Newsletter out and received a great response from supporters and picked up a number of monthly partners.  Special shout-out to Sun-Rock Tarpon Springs for their donations of shipping boxes, palettes and a location to use for large shipments.  We managed to ship out over 600 bibles this month.  Your donations supplied bibles to those in prisons, Hospice, a few street ministries in New York City and Jacksonville FL as well as bibles to Europe and the Pacific Rim.

Knocked Down But Not Knocked Out

Well, after some major setbacks at Bible Senders, like losing 4 of our 6 years of data and partner information, we came out swinging.  We may have been knocked down but we were not knocked out.    Regardless of this set back and rebuilding of our data infrastructure, we added a new website, a revamped Facebook, some great new additions to the family and on top of our 9-5 jobs, kept sending out bibles.  With all these unintended distractions now behind us and intended blessings ahead, we are ready to pick up where we left off and send out some bibles.  At the beginning of the year, our goal was to send out 10,000 bibles, an average of 1,000 per month.  Praise God, it looks like we are going to exceed that goal by the end of September.  Thanks for your continued support.