A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Archive for September, 2016

Syria: If there are no men to lead the church, I will do it.

Syria: ‘If there are no men to lead the church, I will do it!’

Mathild Sabbagh (26) returns to her hometown. She is the first female minister in Syria. Her town in northern Syria is surrounded by ISIS. Last year, her cousin was killed by Muslim extremists. Her brother who is also a pastor was kidnapped. In the middle of a war zone, she will lead the church. “I am not afraid, because I know I have a mission.”

Mathild is ready to leave for Syria. Her large black suitcase contains her whole life. It’s her last day in the Lebanese capital Beirut. This summer Mathild completed her master’s degree in theology. “Look, I received this official appointment from the synod yesterday, one day before my departure. Exactly on time”. Her nails are painted bright red. She is the first female minister in Syria. Her predecessor fled 2.5 years ago with his family to Sweden, as well as many other fellow citizens.

‘I believe in the mysterious growth of the Kingdom of God, even against the odds.’

“If there are no men who can lead the church at this time, I’ll do it!” Her voice sounds firm. Before the war her church still had almost 200 members, but today only 30 or 40 people have remained. ISIS has decimated the number of believers. “Some were killed, others fled. From my primary school friends no one stayed. Everybody’s gone. The war left our city shot to pieces and our entire community beaten apart.”

But it doesn’t keep Mathild from going back. She is more determined than ever, and feels a great sense of urgency. “I believe in the mysterious growth of the Kingdom of God, even against the odds. I go back to my church because I know I’m needed there. The church is like my own family. I’ve learned all my life that I can bring my talents to the church. So now I’ll bring what I have. Because if everyone leaves, then there is no church anymore in Syria!”

Mathild Sabbagh
She plans to preach every Sunday. There was no pastor who could do that in the past 2.5 years. “In addition, I want to focus on trauma counseling, especially for women and children. This particular group has been enormously hit, they hardly had time to breathe and recover. I want to pull them out of their homes and into counselling and support groups.”

‘The biggest challenge will be to not give hate a chance in my heart.’

Mathild’s uncle who is a headmaster in the same town, warned her to not be shocked when she comes back. “He says that all buildings have ruined, there is total chaos. There is no running water and no more electricity. Food is scarce, prices are sky high.” Mathild knows what she’s talking about, because in the past two years, she has been back in Syria regularly to preach the gospel in Sunday services.

“The biggest challenge will be to not give hate a chance in my heart. I am angry for all the wrongs that I have seen.” But she is not worried that something will happen to her. “My cousin was killed last year, her throat was cut by ISIS. Because she was a Christian, they carved a cross in her neck with a knife.”

Mathild wants to live in the place where she belongs. “Life is like a coin: you can spend it only once. That’s why I go back. The consequence that I will lose my life is real. But this is the city where I was born, here I belong. For anyone who wants to chase me away from here, I will be like a fish bone in the throat. I will ensure that ISIS cannot swallow me up.”

Source: Mathild Sabbagh, Church in Action
Joel News International 1009, Septembver 27, 2016







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Porn Online

EVERY REVIVAL SETS US FREE  ~  an urgent wake-up call.

The age of innocence is over …  we are the first generation that will have to talk to our children about porn. We have to tell our kids that pornographic sex is fake and real sex is about love, not lust.

The children’s extensive knowledge of porn terms was not only startling, it superseded that of every adult in the room – including the sex education consultant himself. The adults in attendance were incredulous at the thought that not only did this kind of porn exist, but that a 14-year-old boy may have actually watched it.

‘That’s illegal. Where are you getting this stuff from?’
‘Facebook,’ the boy said. ‘It just pops up whether you want it or not, sometimes via advertisements.’

It’s horrifying enough for parents to know that children can get porn via the internet. But to think they get it from Facebook – the social media currency that has become a universal must-have for teenagers globally – will strike terror into their hearts.

Letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house. 


The moment I knew internet pornography had cast its dark shadow over the lives of millions of ordinary British teenagers will live with me for ever.

I was sitting in the smart drama hall of a specialist sports college in the North of England with a fantastic reputation.

Before me were a group of 20 boys and girls, aged 13-14. Largely white, working class children, they were well turned-out, polite, giggly and shy.

Martin Daubney, ex-editor of Loaded, with his wife Diana and his son Sonny
Martin Daubney with his wife Diana and his son Sonny

I’d been invited to sit in on a forward-thinking class led by sex education consultant Jonny Hunt, who is regularly asked into schools to discuss sex and relationships. To establish what these kids knew about sex – including pornography – he had asked the children to write an A-Z list of the sexual terms they knew, no matter how extreme.

Most of these children had just hit puberty and some were clearly still children: wide-eyed, nervous, with high-pitched voices.

But when Jonny pinned their lists on the board, it turned out that the children’s extensive knowledge of porn terms was not only startling, it superseded that of every adult in the room – including the sex education consultant himself.

The adults in attendance were incredulous at the thought that not only did this kind of porn exist, but that a 14-year-old boy may have actually watched it.

When questioned, they had all – every child in a class of 20 – seen sodomy acted out in porn videos. I was stunned they even knew about it – I certainly hadn’t heard of it at that age – let alone had watched it and as a result may even have wanted to try it.

By the end of the hour-long class – and three others that followed with other children – I was profoundly saddened by what I had witnessed. While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what’s now considered ‘normal’ by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted.

It seemed as if the children’s entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn. The conversation was horrifying enough, yet there was worse to come.

In the playground, I interviewed a brave group of seven bright boys and girls aged 14-15 to ascertain in more detail what online porn they had witnessed.

One boy calmly recalled watching a scene too graphic to describe in a family newspaper, but which had involved an animal.

‘You’re watching bestiality?’ I asked. ‘That’s illegal. Where are you getting this stuff from?’

‘Facebook,’ the boy said. ‘It just pops up whether you want it or not, sometimes via advertisements. You don’t have any control over it.’

A girl added, ‘On Facebook, you just scroll down and it’s there. If any of your friends like it, it comes up on your home page.’

These kids were balanced, smart and savvy. They were the most academically gifted and sporting in the school. They came from ordinary, hard-working households. This was not ‘Broken Britain’.

Some were clearly shocked by what they had seen on the internet.

It’s horrifying enough for parents to know that children can get porn via the internet. But to think they get it from Facebook – the social media currency that has become a universal must-have for teenagers globally – will strike terror into their hearts.

I asked the teenagers: ‘On a scale of one to ten, how likely would you say it is that boys and girls your age are watching porn online?’

The reply was a chorus of tens, nines and one eight.

When I asked the children if there were parental controls on the internet at home, they all said no, their parents trusted them. They all admitted their parents had no idea what they were watching, and would be shocked if they did know.

What I saw at the school was awful, but sadly not unusual.

The findings were backed up in a survey of 80 boys and girls aged 12-16.

It proves the vast majority of UK teens have seen sexual imagery online, or pornographic films.

According to the survey, the boys appear largely happy about watching porn – and were twice as likely as girls to do so – but the girls are significantly more confused, angry and frightened by online sexual imagery. The more they see, the stronger they feel.

But what impact is this steady diet of online depravity having on the attitudes of boys and girls towards real life relationships, and on their self-esteem?

Could it even have a wider impact on their lives, blighting their ability to function in the world, get good qualifications and jobs?

What I discovered left me truly shocked and saddened.

My interest was deeply personal, too, as my own beautiful little boy, Sonny, is now four. Even though he has only just started primary school, the Children’s Commissioner estimates boys as young as ten are now being exposed to online porn.

I wanted to know what I could do to protect my own son from a seemingly inevitable exposure to hardcore material in just a few years’ time.

I used to be sceptical that porn was as damaging a force as the headlines and David Cameron – who recently said it was ‘corroding childhood’ – suggest. In the past I’d even defended pornography in university debates, on TV and on radio. I claimed it was our freedom of choice to watch it and said it could actually help add to adult relationships.

Research for ‘Porn on the Brain’ TV film

What I saw during the making of the film changed my opinion of pornography forever.

The true stories of boys I met whose lives had been totally taken over by porn not only moved me to tears but also made me incredibly angry that this is happening to our children.

And the looks of revulsion on those poor girl’s faces in the playground enraged me.

I feel as if an entire generation’s sexuality has been hijacked by grotesque online porn.

To find out what porn is doing to young men, and the girls they have relationships with, we spoke to them via online forums and discovered that there were many young lives seriously blighted by an excessive, unhealthy relationship with pornography that can begin when they are as young as 12.

We learned that some had lost their jobs, others had broken relationships, failed exams, or got into serious debt through using porn.

Take the 19-year-old man I got to know. He was handsome, articulate and in full-time employment as an apprentice electrician. But his life was dominated by his porn habit.

‘Every bit of spare time I have is spent watching porn,’ he says. ‘It is extreme. I can’t hold down a relationship for longer than three weeks…’

Having established, like the recent Children’s Commissioner report, that ‘basically, porn is everywhere’, we set out to discover what all this porn was doing to their brains.

Was it having any effect at all? Could it be addictive?

We found Dr Valerie Voon, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University and a global authority on addiction.

Then, in the first study of its kind, we recruited 19 heavy porn users who felt their habit was out of control and had Dr Voon examine their brain activity as they watched, among other things, hardcore porn.

She showed them a variety of images, both stills and videos.

These ranged from images known to excite all men, such as bundles of £50 notes and extreme sports in action, to mundane landscapes and wallpapers – all inter-spliced with hardcore porn videos, plus pictures of both clothed and naked women.

The ways in which their brains responded to this diverse imagery were compared with the responses of a group of healthy volunteers.

She was interested in a particular brain region called the ventral striatum – the ‘reward centre’ – where our sense of pleasure is produced. This is one of the areas where an addict will show a heightened response to visual representations of their addiction – whether it’s a syringe or a bottle of vodka.

'Letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house'

‘Letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house’

What we discovered was a revelation. When shown porn, the reward centre of normal volunteers barely reacted, but that of the compulsive porn users lit up like a Christmas tree.

The compulsive porn users’ brains showed clear parallels with those with substance addictions.

Everybody on the project was astounded, even Dr Voon, who admitted she had been ‘sceptical and ambivalent’ about the study at the outset.

If porn does have the insidious power to be addictive, then letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house, or handing out vodka at the school gates.

And this toxic effect is filtering down directly into young girls’ lives.

The most shocking testament came from Professor Gail Dines. Regarded as the world’s leading anti-pornography campaigner, she has interviewed thousands of men and women about sex and pornography.

‘When you interview young women about their experiences of sex, you see an increased level of violence: rough, violent sex,’ she says.

‘That is directly because of porn, as young boys are getting their sexual cues from men in porn who are acting as if they’re sexual psychopaths.

‘Pornography is sexually traumatising an entire generation of boys.’

By talking with sexual addiction experts such as Professor John E Grant of the University of Chicago, Dr Paula Hall, the UK’s top sex addiction therapist, and Professor Matt Field from the University of Liverpool, we learned that the teenage brain is especially vulnerable to addiction.

The brain’s reward centre is fully developed by the time we’re teenagers, but the part of the brain that regulates our urges – the pre-frontal cortex – isn’t fully developed until our mid-20s. The brains of teenagers are not wired to say ‘stop’, they are wired to want more. The implications of this study are profoundly troubling.

So who is going to take on the responsibility for protecting our children until they are old enough to do it for themselves?

Can we rely on schools? It strikes me that the current sex education system in the UK – where schools are obliged only to teach the basics of reproduction and the perils of sex, which they can opt out of anyway – is hopelessly outdated.

In the internet age, our children are turning to online porn for an alternative sex education – the worst place they can go.

The Mail claimed a victory in July when David Cameron announced that by the end of 2014 all 19 million UK homes currently connected to the internet will be contacted by service providers and told they must say whether family friendly filters that block all porn sites should be switched on or off.

But our TV show proved that determined children will always find a way around online blocks.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us, the parents. The age of innocence is over.

Like many parents, I fear that my boy’s childhood could be taken away by pornography. So we have to fight back.

We need to get tech-savvy, and as toe-curling as it seems, we are the first generation that will have to talk to our children about porn.

We have to tell our kids that pornographic sex is fake and real sex is about love, not lust.

By talking to them, they stand a chance. If we stick our head in the sand, we are fooling only ourselves.

By Martin Daubney in Britain’s Daily Mail, Mail Online, edited & emphasis added.

Every Revival sets us free  ~ an urgent wake-up call

Why put this article (even edited with offensive terms and images removed) on a revival website?  Because it’s an urgent wake-up call.

Every parent, pastor, youth leader and teacher should be aware of this. Some Christian homes use internet blockers, but not all. Even so, as the article reveals, pornography still turns up on social media sites. So you must inform and guide your teenagers and children.

What can Christians do about it?

That question is a good topic for home groups, study groups, youth groups and families. Here are a few starting suggestions.

  • Pray.  God guides. God intervenes. God answers prayer.
  • Study. Scripture has answers. Check reliable internet information.
  • Talk. Discuss it with your teens and children. They’re exposed to it.
  • Speak. Preach and lead studies on this vital topic.
  • Share. Add this article to your own social media.

I put this into my General Blogs Index, in Blogs Index 4 Devotional.















Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire

Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire

This general list gives you a simple way of checking to see what God is already doing in your life. You can identify some of the gifts you see in yourself.  It is a simple self assessment guide adapted from similar questionnaires.  Give yourself a score on each statement ranging from 5 (strong) to 1 or 0 (weak).  Avoid too many with 3!  Then add your scores in the table to get totals for each line.

Your highest scores will indicate some areas of strength or gifting, as you see it.  You could also get a friend to score you as they see you and you could do that for them.  Remember this provides a very general guide.  You are growing, and other gifts or strengths will emerge as you grow.

You could copy or print out this page to use for yourself and others.

 Gifts Check List [Scoring:  5 = strong, to 1 or 0 = weak]

  1. I like to affirm people.
  2. I am good at listening.
  3. I love to explain things clearly.
  4. I like talking to a group about Jesus.
  5. I sense what God is saying to a group.
  6. I enjoy witnessing.
  7. I give generously to God’s work.
  8. I choose to live simply for the Kingdom.
  9. I am good at organising.
  10. I have compassion for people in need.
  1. I often pray with sick and hurting people.
  2. I am helpful and adaptable.
  3. I like doing things for others.
  4. I enjoy having visitors or guests.
  5. I relate well to other cultures.
  6. I often give a lead in discussions.
  7. I usually feel courageous in serving God.
  8. I sense spiritual oppression quickly.
  9. I have strong faith in God’s promises.
  10. I enjoy praying with people.
  1. I find ways to encourage others.
  2. I relate to others easily.
  3. I love teaching Bible truths.
  4. I like preparing messages from the Bible.
  5. I get insights or impressions from God.
  6. I love helping people to become Christians.
  7. I use my resources freely for Christian work.
  8. I give away my goods to help the needy.
  9. I plan things well.
  10. I feel deeply for lonely people.
  1. I bring peace to troubled people.
  2. I like being helpful.
  3. I am active in serving others.
  4. I have an open home.
  5. I enjoy mixing across cultural groups.
  6. I am often chosen leader in a group.
  7. I like taking risks for God.
  8. I detect spiritual opposition readily.
  9. I act in faith on the Spirit’s leading.
  10. I see my prayers answered regularly.
  1. I love building others up, not knocking them.
  2. I care about people and like to help them.
  3. I like mastering and explaining truth.
  4. I find my messages bless others.
  5. I get impressions or pictures from the Lord.
  6. I have lead people to faith in Christ.
  7. I always give more than a tithe.
  8. I gladly do without many material goods.
  9. I easily set goals and work for them.
  10. I relate closely with hurting people.
  1. I pray for the sick and see them helped.
  2. I am happy doing practical work.
  3. I see needs and do something to help.
  4. I like having people drop in on me.
  5. I adapt well to different lifestyles.
  6. I put plenty of thought into things I lead.
  7. I often speak boldly in Jesus’ name.
  8. I have taken authority over evil spirits.
  9. I believe in God’s word very strongly.
  10. I often tune into God through the day.
  1. I work at encouraging people.
  2. I really care about people.
  3. I am patient in helping others understand.
  4. I have a strong call to preach in some way.
  5. I often get a word or leading from the Lord.
  6. I love talking to unbelievers about Jesus.
  7. I give gladly to many Christian ministries.
  8. I am happy on a small income.
  9. I pay attention to details in organization.
  10. I like to get along side people in need.
  1. I take time to comfort and pray for the sick.
  2. I help people in practical ways.
  3. I am fulfilled when I serve others.
  4. I love having people at my place.
  5. I enjoy making friends with foreigners.
  6. I often delegate work to others in teams.
  7. I am willing to stand up for Jesus anytime.
  8. I have commanded evil powers to leave.
  9. I step out in faith and see things happen.
  10. I pray for others regularly.


Write your scores for each statement then total them horizontally in the last column.

 1              21               41               61               A

 2              22               42               62               B

 3              23               43               63               C

 4              24               44               64               D

 5              25               45               65               E

 6              26               46               66               F

 7              27               47               67               G

 8              28               48               68               H

 9              29               49               69               I

10             30               50               70               J

11             31               51               71                K

12             32               52               72               L

13             33               53               73               M

14             34               54               74               N

15             35               55               75               O

16             36               56               76               P

17             37               57               77               Q

18             38               58               78               R

19             39               59               79               S

20             40               60               80               T


A  ENCOURAGEMENT ‑ supporting and affirming others

B  PASTORAL ‑ caring for people and helping them

C  TEACHING ‑ imparting truth to help people grow

D  PREACHING ‑ proclaiming God’s word

E  PROPHETIC ‑ revealing insights received from God

F  EVANGELISM ‑ introducing people to Jesus

G  GIVING ‑ spirit of liberality and generosity

H  VOLUNTARY POVERTY ‑ going without for the sake of others

I  ADMINISTRATION ‑ helping plans reach fulfilment

J  MERCY ‑ compassion and care for others

K  HEALING ‑ bringing wholeness to hurting people

L  HELPING ‑ assisting others in their work

M  SERVICE ‑ finding ways to serve other people

N  HOSPITALITY ‑ open heart and home for people

O  MISSIONARY ‑ cross-cultural ministry

P  LEADERSHIP ‑ involving others in ministry

Q  COURAGE ‑ gifted with boldness or authority

R  DISCERNMENT ‑ awareness of spiritual forces

S  FAITH ‑ firm belief leading to action

T  INTERCESSION ‑ commitment in prayer for others

 Here is a more comprehensive list from Paul’s three passages on using spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ

Romans 12:6-8, sometimes called Motivation gifts of God (our Father)

  1. prophecy
  2. ministry
  3. teaching
  4. exhorting
  5. giving
  6. leading
  7. showing mercy

Ephesians 4:11, sometimes called Ministry gifts of Jesus (to his church)

  1. apostle
  2. prophet
  3. evangelist
  4. pastor
  5. teacher

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, sometimes called Manifestation gifts of the Spirit (to us all)

  1. word of wisdom
  2. word of knowledge
  3. faith
  4. healings
  5. miracles
  6. discerning of spirits
  7. prophecy
  8. tongues
  9. interpretation of tongues

The questionnaire is from Geoff Waugh’s books Living in the Spirit, Your Spiritual Gifts, Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit, and The Leader’s Goldmine.

 Living in the Spirit


 Fruit & Gifts of the Spirit

The Leader's Goldmine

General Blogs Index

Blogs Index 1: Revivals (briefer than Revivals Index)

Blogs Index 2: Mission (international stories)

Blogs Index 3: Devotional (including Testimonies)

Blogs Index 4: Chapters (Blogs from Books)

Blogs Index 5: Images (photos from Books)

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Story-tellers of Good News

Story-tellers of good news ~ Results in healed families, freedom, love, less violence and addiction, redemption, hope, divine favour, grace, they pray and God moves.

Share to inform and inspire others.


West Africa: Dramatic transformation among Muslim peoples.

“Dramatic transformation is the key to rapid multiplication of churches among Muslims,” says Jerry Trousdale of missions organization CityTeam International.

He relates the story how one time their West African ministry partners were having their midday prayers, when they suddenly were surrounded by Muslim leaders. The team had been seeing breathtaking breakthroughs among highly resistant Muslim peoples, so they had anticipated opposition. They had reason to be fearful, but kept praying. Surprisingly, the Muslims just stood around them observing the proceedings and making no signs of hostile intentions.

“We beg you: could you please send us the story-tellers?”

When the Christian leaders finished praying, the group approached and turned out to be a delegation of Muslim civic leaders from a distant region. They had come with their imam and with a request. They said: “We have not come to harm you, but we beg you – could you please send us the story-tellers?” They meant the Christian workers who were making disciples by telling stories. The Muslim leaders from this community had observed other communities in their area that had become Christian, and they had noticed a dramatic change in people’s lives. They wanted the same thing in their community!

After some rearranging of schedules and responsibilities, the ministry was able to send out a team of storytellers to the distant village. Nobody imagined at the time that events like these would be repeated again and again, and that even entire mosques would come to faith in Christ. “When Muslims observe the types of dramatic transformation that only the gospel can bring in individuals, families and whole communities, they are often jealous to experience the same,” explains Trousdale.


What does transformation look like among Muslim-background believers? These are some of the most common changes seen among Muslims who accept Christ:

1. Healed families.
In families where women and children have been treated almost as slaves, wife beating becomes no longer acceptable, and love begins to heal broken marriages. Children are given permission to attend schools and are treated with new appreciation. Fighting between parents and children diminishes. Polygamy is no longer the choice of Christian men, and prostitution dies out.

2. A Spirit of Freedom.
When people discover freedom, it affects everything in their lives. They find release from fatalism, they are willing to try new things, and they expect God to bless their lives.

3. A Spirit of Love.
Many Muslim people report that God puts love in their hearts for the first time. In many cases, they have a new passion for fellow Muslims who are still in the mosque.

4. Diminished violence.
There have been instances in which, upon becoming Christians, former Muslims refuse to participate in ongoing ethnic warfare. In one case, when the Christian men were called to account for why they no longer ‘supported the tribe’, they shared the message of Jesus. This caused tribal elders to rethink their reasons for fighting, and the fighting stopped. Today, the two men who stood up for their conviction, are church planters.

5. Less addiction.
The levels of addiction to alcohol, khat, and other things that consume people’s lives are greatly diminished as these people receive prayer for deliverance.

6. Redemption and hope.
Historically, when lost people become obedient disciples of Jesus, they typically exchange fatalism for optimism, have new energy and initiative, and become more productive people. In addition, they abandon expensive addictions, and they see the blessings for God on their family situation.

7. Evidences of Divine favour.
Many new Christians share with joy how, after they became followers of Jesus, and during a time of prolonged drought, the Lord caused it to rain on their farms or on the pasture where their livestock was, but not on their neighbors’ land. And it became so obvious that the Muslim neighbors came to them to find out why these Christians had such favor. Farmers in every region that City Team International workers have interviewed report that, since they have become Christians, they have begun praying over their fields and have ceased using Muslim or spiritist blessings on their land, and their harvests have dramatically increased.

8. Grace in persecution.
Many new Christians in Muslim areas face harsh persecution. But these believers, though persecuted in cruel ways, have been transformed so deeply that they find the courage to speak a blessing on their persecutors. This forgiveness in the face of persecution can, over time, be the way that God gets into a persecutor’s heart to transform it as well. Numerous Muslims who formerly persecuted the Muslim-background Christians in their areas have come to faith as a result of those whom they persecuted responding with grace and kindness to the evil things done to them.

9. Freedom from demonic oppression.
Many Muslims have experienced years of torment from demonic powers. But when they repent of sins and receive Jesus as Lord, those spirits are successfully cast out. These deliverances are very tangible witnesses of the power of the gospel in Muslim families.

10. The power of individual prayer.
Common people discover that they can pray and God moves. Even the Muslims see this and thank God for the changes in the communities, as many who used to disturb them are now peaceful Christians.

Source: Jerry Trousdale
Joel News International 872.