A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Archive for June, 2018

Russia: Churches use the World Cup to reach millions in church buildings

Russia: Churches use the World Cup to reach millions in church buildings

“They don’t allow believers to share their faith outside of their church buildings. So the churches invite people to their officially registered church buildings where they are allowed to freely share the gospel.” There, people will get to watch the games on a big screen, eat snacks, and encounter God’s word. 

Russia kicked off the World Cup, a month-long spectacle where millions of fans tune in to watch the world’s best soccer teams battle to be number one.

For many Christians this isn’t just a sporting event, it’s an opportunity to spread the gospel in a country that has become increasingly hostile towards evangelism. Hundreds of congregations across Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities are skirting around Russia’s anti-evangelism laws by inviting people to watch the games live in their church buildings.

There, people will get to watch the games on a big screen, eat snacks, and encounter God’s word. Since most of the popular matches are sold out, the setup is a win-win for both the churches and the spectators. The churches have partnered with Mission Eurasia to pass out Bibles, discipleship materials, and invitations to Bible studies.

Mission Eurasia president Sergey Rakhuba believes 3 million soccer fans will hear the gospel, despite the government’s crackdown on evangelism. “They don’t allow believers to share their faith outside of their church buildings. So the churches invite people to their officially registered church buildings where they are allowed to freely share the gospel.”

Source: Sergey Rakhuba

  # 1086 | June 19, 2018













Japan: Christian persecution sites nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

Japan: Christian persecution sites nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

This month, a dozen Christian landmarks in Japan – where just 1 percent of the population claims Christ – have been officially recommended to be named World Heritage sites.

“First, it recognizes the centrality of hidden Christian history in Japanese soil, which is a significant contribution to Japanese understanding of her own history. Second, it accentuates the cultural value of the resilience of Christianity even under many years of persecution.”

Spanning across the Nagasaki and Amakusa region, these sites represent places where believers during the Tokugawa shogunate (1630-1867) suffered the harshest persecution and martyrdom in the Asian nation’s history.

The list includes the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, which memorializes 17 Japanese Christians and 9 European priests who were crucified at the order of the ruler; Hara Castle in Minamishimabara, a battlefield during the uprising when Catholic rebels were massacred, their leader beheaded, and their faith banned; and other ‘hidden Christian’ sites, where Christ-followers carried on their beliefs in secret for hundreds of years.

These landmarks, if granted recognition by UNESCO, would join 14 other cultural World Heritage sites in Japan and over 800 around the world.

“This recommendation by the Japanese government on hidden Christian sites is significant for several reasons,” said Makoto Fujimura, who authored a book on faith in the midst of suffering. “First, it recognizes the centrality of hidden Christian history in Japanese soil, which is a significant contribution to Japanese understanding of her own history. Second, it accentuates the cultural value of the resilience of Christianity even under many years of persecution.”

Source: Kate Shellnut, Makoto Fujimura

  # 1086 | June 19, 2018

Trailer of the movie ‘Silence’ about the persecution of Jesuit missionaries and Christians in 17th century Japan, with actor Andrew Garfield (who stars in Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond Doss the Quaker conscientious objector in WWII and Medal of Honour winner).












The Windowsill of Heaven

The Windowsill of Heaven

Every morning, lean thine arms awhile
Upon the windowsill of heaven,
And gaze upon thy Lord.
Then, with the vision in thy heart,
Turn strong to meet thy day.

Poem by Thomas Blake 

In the early days of his ministry, Dr. Theodore F. Adams vacationed in Wisconsin where he attended an outdoor vesper service led by an Episcopal rector who recited the verse above. Dr Adams never forgot those words. He committed them to memory.

From 1936-1968 Dr. Adams served as senior pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. During that time he referred to this verse countless times as one of his favourites. He even had desktop placards made and sent to every member of the church.

Many readers are aware that the beautiful stained glass windows surrounding the FBC Sanctuary were part of a renovation project initiated by Dr. Adams in the late 1940s, but they may be unaware of the message he left in one of the windows by which we remember him today.

In the commission of the windows’ refurbishment, Dr. Adams’ goal was twofold. The larger windows that surround the balcony were to portray the significant events in the life of Jesus, while those below were to demonstrate how followers could live out Jesus’ lessons in modern times. Each upper window correlates to the one below it and is interpreted there for modern understanding. Each window is also accompanied by a scripture passage – except one.

There are two windows in the church picturing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, one in the Chapel and one in the Sanctuary. The Chapel window’s focus is on prayer, but the story in the Sanctuary’s window shows Jesus, having been strengthened by prayer, telling Peter, James, and John, “Behold, the hour is at hand—Rise, let us be going.” The light shining on Jesus comes from heaven and affirms Jesus’ declaration that, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

The Garden of Gethsemane 

Bathed in sunlight in the corollary window below kneels a lone figure, praying the very poem that begins, “Every morning, lean thine arms upon the windowsill of heaven.” These verses are not found in the Bible, but send the message that made such a marked impression on Dr. Adams’ life that he was determined it be memorialized in this window.

The Windowsill of Heaven

Could he have guessed that with each reading, those who remembered him would also see him reciting it before a congregation of First Baptist Church members, even today?

In writing about Dr. Adams, Dr. W. Randall Lolley, former pastor of FBC Greensboro, NC, says that Dr. Adams was a man, “who truly perceived the earth as the ‘windowsill of heaven.’ Every person he met, every event he enjoyed, every experience he knew worked ‘inside/out’ rather than ‘outside/in.’”

May we put into practice these words so dear to Dr. Adams.

Source: First Things First, the online magazine of Richmond’s First Baptist Church










Love on Fire


A fire burned inside Myo Zaw. It was lit the day the Lord redeemed him, and it grew hotter and more intense every single day. He was like the prophet Jeremiah, unable to keep the love of Christ hidden within himself. If he tried, he felt restless, he felt sick.

Weary of holding it in, Myo Zaw shouted from the roadsides and in market places, “Christ [redeemed] me, and He will [redeem] you also!”

Love on Fire

People thought he had gone mad. Those in his community already knew him as a hot-blooded drunkard who fought with people and beat his wife and children, and now he proved his insanity.

“But I knew I was not mad,” Myo Zaw says. “The love of God just would not simply keep [quiet] in my heart. I wanted to pour it out and share it.”

Independently Ministering

Consumed by a fire that could not be put out, Myo Zaw traveled throughout his region, walking from place to place, sharing the Word of God. He told people “how a sinner like me was found by God.” In three years, he visited 100 communities. His wife, Shway, sent him letters while he was away to encourage him.

Love on Fire

“If your life can change by Christ, there is no one who cannot be changed by Christ,” she’d say. “So wherever you are going and sharing the Word of God, we are here to pray for you. I believe people will be changed by the love of Christ.”

And people were—350 of them. They heard of His great love and saw it lived out in His child, and it changed them.

Following Like Jesus

Not long after, a man visited Myo Zaw’s village and shared about the different places in their country and how Jesus went to a foreign land, though heaven was His home.

The fire inside Myo Zaw intensified. He knew without any doubt that his life needed to be about sharing the Lord’s love with others. It was a powerful love that transformed him, and he knew others needed it, too.

Love on Fire
Myo Zaw (pictured) with his wife, Shway, and youngest son.

He told himself, “It is better that I go and give my life for the people in foreign lands.” So he and his wife prayed and prepared themselves to live in an area where people were unfamiliar with the Lamb of God.

Nearly 10 years later, God sent them to the southern region of their country as GFA-supported missionaries.

Forced Out of Community

In their new community, people quickly realized Myo Zaw and his family were Christians and decided they would have nothing to do with the new arrivals.

“We were [forced] out of community,” Pastor Myo Zaw says, “and it is very difficult to live without community.”

People threw stones at Myo Zaw’s home and threatened to penalize others if they spoke to the Christians. Even Myo Zaw’s young children faced discrimination at school because of their faith.

“Sometimes, when we would go to the market,” Pastor Myo Zaw recalls, “they’d look at us as if we were enemies. All these things we faced, but the Lord showed His grace upon us through which we are still OK now.”

Turning of Hearts

Myo Zaw, Shway and their children trusted Christ throughout the hardships, and with the Spirit’s fiery love pulsating within them, they learned how to love the people in their new community.

Love on Fire

Myo Zaw’s wife, Shway, leading Sunday School in one of the local fellowships.

The pastor started with film ministry, showing people movies they enjoyed and also the film of Jesus’ life. The local children felt Myo Zaw’s and his wife’s warmth and began visiting them. Myo Zaw and Shway would give the young boys and girls treats, teach them songs and bathe the ones that came looking haggard.

The community watched how they cared for their children and wondered why this man and his wife loved them so much. Soon, people talked to them at the market, and Pastor Myo Zaw and Shway were able to reveal Christ’s love to them.

They cared for the sick and took people to the hospital when needed. When floodwaters destroyed homes and livelihoods, they and other GFA-supported workers helped provide relief. Pastor Myo Zaw frequently visited people to encourage them and offer words of life and hope in Christ Jesus. And people visited him as well.

Love on Fire

God’s Most Powerful Weapon

The fire God kindled within Myo Zaw on the first day of his redemption continues to burn brighter and hotter as the years pass.

“My love has become deeper for them. I care for them more,” he says of the people who are now his friends. “That’s why I don’t want to go back to my hometown. That is why I would like to sacrifice my whole life for them.”

After 14 years of displaying Christ’s love, people feel and understand Myo Zaw’s love for them and many return it. They’ve come to know that “everything I do is for them,” he says. And he does it because of Christ.

“What I have found in my life,” Myo Zaw says, “is that love is the most powerful weapon we have from God.”

Sponsor a missionary like Myo Zaw today.


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Hindu priest embraces Jesus after getting shocked by his power.

Nepal: Hindu priest embraces Jesus after getting shocked by His power

Former Hindu priest plants churches in Nepal, the Philippines and Malaysia

A Hindu priest in Nepal once believed that Christianity is a fake religion and challenged a Christian evangelist to prove to him that was not so by making him accept Jesus Christ in 30 days.

The unnamed evangelist accepted the challenge, according to Kosh Dahal, the Hindu priest, who recounted his experience in a video posted recently on YouTube.

In the video, Dahal said the Christian evangelist kept on visiting him at his veterinary clinic in Kathmandu where he kept on talking about “the loving living only God Jesus.” “He bothered me because I didn’t want to accept Jesus Christ. He kept coming and ministering the gospel, and I kept rejecting him,” Dahal said.

“One day I got challenged. I wanted to prove that Christianity is a fake religion and that Jesus can’t do anything.” ‘I will ask your Jesus for 30 days – 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening – if He is the real God, and to touch me and change me,’ Dahal told the evangelist. If his Jesus failed to convince him to change his mind after 30 days, he would file a complaint against the evangelist with the police, warning him that Nepal law prohibits proselytising. ‘You will be in trouble,’ he warned the evangelist. The Christian missionary boldly accepted the challenge.

Kosh Dahal, and Kairos Nepali Church in Malaysia

Two times every day, the evangelist visited Dahal’s clinic and preached about Jesus. With two weeks left before the expiration of the 30-day challenge, Dahal still remained unconvinced about turning his back on the Hindu gods and accepting Jesus instead. If 330 million Hindu gods and goddesses couldn’t respond to his prayers, Dahal doubted very much that one God like Jesus could do so.

However, at the end of the third week, Dahal was struck by something he had never imagined. “This power like a current of electricity came into me and began to run very fast,” Dahal recalled. “I was shocked. I was closing my eyes and opening my eyes, and I was very afraid. I kept saying, ‘Who is this? What’s happening to me? What’s inside of me running very fast?’ He said it was an experience he had never encountered in his 30 years of worshiping the Hindu pantheon of gods. “I was challenging Jesus and he sent his power. That morning I realized that Jesus Christ is real and has mighty power. He woke me up. I cried.”

Dahal promised the evangelist that he would leave everything to follow Jesus. Eventually his wife Shobah also accepted Jesus after seeing the dramatic change for the better in her husband. To the couple’s amazement, her acceptance of Jesus led to the miraculous healing of her uterine myoma, a benign growth that might have required a hysterectomy. Together with their three children, the couple abandoned the Hindu priesthood and began evangelising. They planted a church in Kathmandu. After some years, they moved to the Philippines where they planted five more churches. In 2013, they moved to Malaysia and began to minister to Nepalese at the Kairos Nepali Church Knc.

Source: Kosh Dahal, Hazel Torres, God Reports

Nepal’s anti-conversion law about to be implemented

There have been significant changes in Nepal’s recent history which have introduced uncertainty for the nation’s future. In 2015, Nepal declared itself a secular state through a new constitution. It seemed that religious freedom was growing. However, earlier this year Nepal also adopted a new law, criminalizing religious conversion. The law is about to go into effect in August. And another big change just took place last month, as well. On May 17, Nepal’s two communist parties combined, creating the unified Nepal Communist Party that now holds a two-thirds majority in parliament.

These changes have set Nepal on a new and unknown trajectory. Minority groups like Christians are prayerfully watching how these changes come into effect. The government is already watching foreign missionary groups very closely if they’re engaged in any conversion activity. Missions group Asian Access who trains church leaders in Nepal requests prayer: “Please pray that we can stand firmly and be more bold and united. Pray for the Church to stay focused on her mission and on serving God well.”
Source: Global Disciples, Asian Access

# 1085 | June 13, 2018

Mnemonics and memory aids

Mnemonics and Memory Aids


Now I’m 80 I find I can’t remember details like I once could.  So now I need my written shopping list, and I need to write notes in my diary more than before. I’ve used a diary with a double-page per week for decades. It’s simple to use and easy to see each week’s events at a glance. Smartphone users will apply this to their phone’s notepad or diary.

For over 50 years I’ve added a red biro phrase from my daily Bible reading in my diary. And yes, there were times when I skipped some days (either not reading or not noting). Some days, when I was busy I just noted a text from memory – usually comforting ones like “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20) or “I will help you” (Isaiah 41:10) or other favourites.  It’s easy to do – and even a 30-second pause to remember and pray can make a huge difference – see The Healing Power of Prayer, by a medical doctor. He writes:

“The best times of day are first thing in the morning and right before bed. However you can pray in the car on the way to work, in line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or before you eat your meals. Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.” 

I have my diary and two biros by my bed, now accompanied by my smartphone (for its not so smart user). Those accumulated diaries make interesting reading – at least for me. Much of my history is there, including daily meditations on God’s Word. Those meditations accompany my notes, appointments, and plans, and they become a record of God’s goodness and leading.

Here are a few ideas for mnemonics or memory aids.


We all make lists of things to do. It’s handy to have stick-on notes or a small tear-off notepad for shopping lists. Add items until you need to tear off the top page and take it with you. Some of you make notes or lists on your smartphone! My smartphone lists include anointed songs or choruses I hear at church, ready to use or pass on anytime.

Your lists of things to do probably need at least two categories: soon and later. Your smartphone or computer can be useful for those lists – you’ll adjust them often. It’s nice when you delete items – they’re done, or forget-it! My computer desktop, and phone have pages with lists that I can adjust easily.


Birthdays and Anniversaries: Facebook reminds me of birthdays, and it’s easy to send a greeting. Each December or January I add family birthdays and anniversaries to my new diary. The double page annual Planner at the front is especially useful for that. Many of you will use your smartphone calendar. I find a perpetual journal or diary handy, so I published one with a double page per week and a devotional picture on each page. See the Devotional Journal and Planner.


Memory aids can be a fun way to remember what you want to remember.  Here are some examples.

People’s names: Link a person’s name to a vivid picture, eg. a Bible story for Peter, Paul, and Mary, or for David and Jonathan, and so on.

A Handful: Link up to 5 items to each finger, eg Ephesians 4:11 – ministry gifts:
0 Eph 4,11 hand


Two handfuls: Link 1-10 items to rhyming words for the numbers 1-10: bun, shoe, tree, door, hive, sticks, heaven, gate, vine hen. Some people prefer devon for 7 – an easier visual! Memorizing these rhyming words can be a fun activity for kids.

One way to ‘memorize’ the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) is to visualize each number as a rhyming image:
1 Bun:     No other gods – bun shaped as a god
2 Shoe:   No idols – shoe hung on idol’s feet
3 Tree:    No swearing – fall from tree swearing
4 Door:   Remember Sabbath – church door
5 Hive:    Honour parents – beehive family
6 Sticks:  No murder – kill with sticks
7 Heaven: No adultery – no marriage/divorce there
8 Gate:    No stealing – thief creeps through gate
9 Vine:    No lies – vineyard owner exaggerates
10 Hen:  No coveting – wanting friend’s fat hen

See the Blog God’s Positive Will: A Christian paraphrase of the 10 Commandments.

For a more challenging 1-10 mnemonic, try the I AM statements of Jesus:
1 Bun:  I am the bread of life (John 6:35)
2. Shoe:  I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
3 Tree:  I am the good shepherd – in tree’s shade (John 10:11)
4 Door:  I am the door (John 10:9)
5 Hive:  I am the resurrection and the life – sit on a hive! (John 11:25)
6 Sticks:  I am the light of the world – fire-stick or light on a stick) (John 8:12)
7 Heaven: I am (John 8:58)
8 Gate: I am the first and the last – through the gate (Rev 22:13)
9 Vine: I am the true vine (John 15:1)
10 Hen: I am alpha & omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8; 22:13)
You can, of course, Google these on your smartphone – but it’s fun to remember them too.
Now close your eyes and see how many of the 10 you can remember! You may be surprised.


I just discovered I can spell ‘ageing’ both ways – after I thought ‘aging’ looked weird. I’m old enough to have to visit the GP for annual checks for my driver’s license and a health check, such as being able to recall random words like house, dog, and bus, after being distracted. Visualizing the words in order makes it easy: a house where the dog chases the bus. So a year later I can still remember the ‘random’ words, in order!

However, remembering if I’ve done routine tasks, like eating fruit or taking daily medication, is more tricky. Some people have containers with compartments for daily pills, but I don’t need that. I do need to put some pills out each day so I know if I’ve taken them. Some days the ‘morning’ vitamin diet is still out later in the day, so I’m prompted to have them. It’s a bit like remembering to have an apple a day to keep the doctor away.

Well, that’s just a brief summary of useful mnemonics and memory aids. I’ve probably forgotten other ideas, but that’s it for now, and I can add more ideas later to this Blog. So if I get another random idea, I can just add it to my list till I get back to blogging.

Add your comment if you’d like to help other people with other useful ideas.


PS. I wonder what Blog Index this Blog fits! I guess it’s closest to Devotional.

















God saves and heals – including HIV

God saves and heals – including HIV

You too can pray and believe – even now as you read this report.
Kampala, Uganda – Day 1
May 06, 2012

We are rejoicing tonight after the first meeting of our Gospel Campaign here in Kampala, Uganda has just come to an end.


The very fact that we are here is a sign and a wonder in itself.  We experienced a miracle of provision a couple of days ago that has made this event possible and already we can see that this is going to be a historic event.  Here are just a few things that have happened since we arrived:

•      Many of you may be familiar with the remarkable story of what happened in Jinja, which is located just about an hours drive from where we are now.  (If you’re not familiar with this story, you can read all about it in Chapter 30 of evangelist Bonnke’s autobiography – Living a Life of Fire).  Today, for the first time in two decades, evangelist Bonnke set foot on Jinja soil again to pray for this city that has suffered so much since those events transpired some twenty-three years ago.  Hundreds of pastors came out to meet him and the presence of God moved in a very special way.  I wish I had more time to tell you the whole story, but suffice it to say that what Satan meant for evil, God has turned around for good.  The peace of God has returned to Jinja and a new day has dawned!

•      Last night we were received by the president of Uganda, his wife and his whole family at the state house, where we had dinner and wonderful fellowship. Afterward, evangelist Bonnke preached the Gospel and we prayed over the first family.

•      Tonight evangelist Bonnke preached a powerful evangelistic message and thousands responded.  Then we prayed for the sick and wonderful miracles of healing began to take place

•      An old lady who was totally blind in both eyes received her sight tonight 

•      A father carried his daughter from the hospital with the intravenous catheter (from an i.v. drip) still attached to her arm.  She was inflicted with both typhoid fever and malaria. Tonight she was totally healed and she walked, unaided, up onto the platform to testify.
•      A man who had a severe back injury in a motorcycle accident was confined to a back brace.  Tonight, after the power of God came on him, he ripped that brace off and began to dance and jump! 

There is much more – too much to tell.  We are so grateful to be here and so excited about what Jesus will do here in Kampala this week. Please bombard heaven for us this week.  Pray that every chain will be broken and every captive set free.

Kampala, Uganda – Day 2
June 07, 2012
This morning was the beginning of the Fire Conference here in Kampala.  Rev. Peter van den Berg and I ministered to the pastors and church workers who have come from far and wide to receive an impartation for their lives and ministries. 
I believe that the Fire Conference, in many ways, may have an even more long-term impact than the crusade itself because it’s multiplication effect.  Once the crusade is over, these ministers, filled with power from on high, will take up the baton and continue on to see Uganda impacted for eternity.
Tonight, after I preached the Gospel, there was an overwhelming response from those who wanted to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ.  Thousands were born again into the Kingdom of God.  And the blood that brought salvation is the same blood that brought healing tonight;

– A lady who had four lumps in her breasts said that, during the prayer, she felt heat cascade over her and she felt like things were leaving her body.  Afterward, she checked her breasts and found that all the lumps had completely disappeared along with all pain!

– A woman who had fallen into a pit and broken her arm went to the doctors, who put it in a cast, but it did not heal properly – it was twisted and misshapen.  But during the prayer she said she could hear popping and cracking coming from her arm.  Before her very eyes that twisted arm snapped into place and is now perfectly normal!

– Another woman who had a back injury also heard the bones snapping and popping as the spine righted itself and now she is completely well!

– As I was praying for the sick and rebuking sicknesses, demons began to manifest all over the place.  Many were violently thrown to the ground as the demons were leaving their bodies.  This mass deliverance that started tonight will continue tomorrow night.  I will be breaking the familiar local curses in the name of Jesus and we will burn the articles of witchcraft that are brought; charms fetishes, amulets, idols etc. 

Please pray for a mighty and complete deliverance tomorrow for the people of Kampala.


Kampala, Uganda – Day 3
June 08, 2012

This is a very special year for the nation of Uganda.  They are celebrating 50 years of independence and everyone is using the word “Jubilee.”  But the greatest jubilee of all is the Good news of the Gospel; proclaiming liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and setting free those who are oppressed.  I believe this Gospel campaign is a prophetic sign to this nation and what we are seeing this week is not only a sign but also a wonder.

After preaching the Gospel and breaking the curses tonight in the name of Jesus the power of God began to roll across that field. 

A young man, totally blind in both eyes for five years received his sight tonight! 

Another young man with AIDS was hit by the power of God on Wednesday. He said he felt electricity going through his body.  He was so sure he had been healed that he came forward to give his testimony.  But the ushers told him to go see his doctor and have a check-up.  Tonight he brought the diagnosis straight from the hospital – I read it with my own eyes – HIV NEGATIVE! 

A crippled girl walked for the first time tonight as well as a lame woman who was carried to the meeting!

These are but a small sampling of the many wonderful things that Jesus is doing.  But the greatest miracle of all was the many thousands who surrendered their hearts to Christ tonight, making him Lord and Savior.  This is the Jubilee that Uganda needs and this is the acceptable year of the Lord’s favor!

Kampala, Uganda – Day 4
June 09, 2012

What a glorious day we’ve had in the presence of the Lord.  The Holy Spirit fell in power in both the Fire Conference this morning and then again in the mass meeting tonight.  As Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel.”  Many demoniacs were delivered, deaf ears were opened, paralytics walked and tumors disappeared!

Multitudes responded to the Gospel and received Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Our bodies are weary, but our spirits are soaring.  We are looking for one more mighty harvest tomorrow night.  I believe Jesus has saved the best for last.  Please continue to pray for us.


Kampala, Uganda – Day 5
June 10, 2012


Uganda is a nation that has been in the news a lot lately.  The Kony 2012 initiative put the international spotlight on this country that has been plagued by violence, bloodshed and mass murder.  We have seen a lot of concern for the people of Uganda – even to the point of putting up posters and petitioning government officials.  But perhaps the most significant thing that has happened this year is the Gospel crusade that has just come to a close here in Kampala.  It is likely that more people were born again here this week then in any other single place on the face of the earth.  We have seen cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, tumors disappear, mass outpourings of the Holy Spirit, witchcraft abandoned, repentance and restitution, forgiveness granted, curses broken, demoniacs delivered and the blessing of God descend in a huge, public, national and prophetic expression of the Kingdom of God!  This is what we came here for; this is God’s initiative – HARVEST 2012!

Although the Devil did everything he could to stop this crusade from happening; financial difficulties and logistical challenges, many dangers, toils and snares, the Lord has been faithful, you have prayed for us and helped us financially and now the work has been done.  Local congregations are bursting at the seams with new converts and the Church has been elevated; not only in a spiritual way but also having received the public recognition of the President himself and the First Lady who personally attended the crusade.

I mentioned before that, this year, Uganda is celebrating 50 years of independence and it is being called a “Jubilee” year.  It just so happens that, even though we weren’t aware of any of these things, the Lord directed us to be in Uganda this year, not once, but twice (it is the only nation we will be in more than once this year).  

I can’t help but feel that there is an extraordinary spiritual significance that is far deeper than we even realize.  HARVEST 2012 continues next month as we return to Uganda, this time to the city of Gulu (which happens to be very close to where Joseph Kony was born and is now home to thousands of refugees, displaced during the hostilities between the government and Kony’s army, the LRA).  God has a plan for this nation and we (you and us) have a strategic part to play.  Thank you for interceding and also for standing with us financially.  


Opera singer plants church in Vienna

Austria: Opera singer from Brazil plants church in Vienna with former Muslims, Buddhists and atheists

‘We’re now no longer enemies, but brothers in Christ’

When Maria began to feel God nudging her to share Christ with Persians, she didn’t know what a Persian was. But within a week she met a girl from Iran. 

When Maria asked what language she spoke, the girl said “Persian,” so Maria knew God had prepared her and invited the young lady to study the Bible.

Maria didn’t set out to start a new Persian church. She was just obeying God. But that Bible study has now grown to over 100 people – a mixture of former Muslims from Iran and Afghanistan, former Buddhists from Vietnam and former atheists from Austria. The Iranian girl got saved, started sharing her faith with others, and brough them also to the Bible study. It was just spontaneous.

“Maria’s always had the desire to serve the Lord,” said Roger Hartsill, an IMB worker who is helping Maria. “She decided to do something in her home… and we’ve pitched in to help her.”

Maria came to Vienna from Brazil more than a decade ago. She had completed a seminary degree as well as a music degree and was offered a scholarship to study opera in Vienna. After finishing her studies, she settled in Vienna, married an Austrian and embarked on a career, but her lifelong call to missions never dissipated.

‘This home-based Bible study has grown to over 100 people’

The Bible study with the Persian girl from Iran started in her home in 2014. By the end of that year, two Iranians, two Vietnamese and one Austrian had become Christians and had been baptized. Twelve new converts, most of whom were Iranian immigrants, were added to their number by the Spring of 2015.

Maria has now quit her job to be a full-time missionary. Her husband works to support the family. As the work began to reach mostly Muslim men, Maria wisely sought out male pastors, as the body has been in transition from an outreach group in her home, to a house church, and then to a recognized church within the Austrian Baptist Convention.

Hartsill, who is mentoring Maria from his home in Germany, is in a unique position to help. He and his wife Diana began their ministry with IMB in South America, then moved to Europe for the express purpose of mobilizing South American believers who have emigrated to Europe. The Hartsills want to help Latinos in Europe spread the Gospel wherever they go, but specifically to other immigrants and refugees. “We have discovered that oftentimes a believing immigrant from elsewhere can more easily connect with the refugees and immigrants in Europe than the nationals can,” Hartsill said.

‘A believing immigrant can more easily connect with other immigrants.’

Among the challenges facing the church is that teaching and discipleship must be done through translators or in a second language. New believers coming from strong Islamic, Buddhist and atheistic backgrounds have a relatively long discipleship road and their backgrounds also put many at risk. Often the new Christians can never return to their families or home countries because of their conversions.

There is always the risk of an attack on Christians or on the church, even in Europe. Recently the church in Vienna was infiltrated by an enemy of the Gospel who poisoned Maria’s food during a fellowship meal. She was hospitalized but has since recovered. The persecution hasn’t stopped Maria from forging ahead, convinced that it’s worth the risk to watch God bring former enemies of Christ together.

“Recently I was in the Vienna church for baptism, and afterwards everybody was just hanging out,” Hartsill recounted. “This guy came up and said he was from Iran. He said: ’You know Iranians and Americans have not always gotten along, but I want to get a picture with you because you’re my brother in Christ now.’ An Afghan guy heard this and said: ‘Well, Afghans don’t always get along with either of you. In fact, if you, me and this guy were in our home countries, we’d probably be looking at each other down a gun barrel. He’s Sunni and I’m Shi’ite, but we’re brothers in Christ.’ A Vietnamese guy was playing the violin for worship but stopped to join us. He said: ’Well, Vietnam has had problems with the U.S. too…’ So we got this picture – we’re all brothers in Christ. These men who were once angry don’t have to fight anymore because they’ve found peace in Jesus.”

‘We’re now no longer enemies, but brothers in Christ’

God has continued to bless the church plant. In November 2015, 22 former Muslims – all Iranians and Afghans – were baptized. In April 2016, another 18 Iranians and Afghans were baptized as well as a local Austrian doctor who has become a strong supporter of the new church. Nineteen more baptisms were celebrated on May 28, 2016, including Vietnamese, Afghans and Iranians. In August 2016, 18 former Muslims followed Christ in believer’s baptism. In December 2016, 16 were baptized, and in March 2017, 11 more.

“This new work started from zero and has seen 94 adult baptisms in less than two years,” Hartsill said. “Nearly all of the new converts are immigrants from Iran, Afghanistan or Vietnam – places where missionaries cannot freely enter. The growth is the result of these new believers sharing their newfound faith with others from their people groups.”

Hartsill visits several times a year to help with baptisms, discuss logistical problems, and wrestle through issues that come from having Muslim-, Buddhist- and Catholic-background believers in a burgeoning church family. “My role is primarily to coach,” Hartsill said. “We have identified an Iranian man who feels called to ministry and whom we hope will assume the role of pastor for this church in the near future. His immigrant status is still pending, but he is already teaching new converts in the church’s discipleship training.”

The growing church is looking for space to expand, and the Hartsills ask for prayer for the work God is doing in Vienna.

Source: Roger Hartsill, Nicole Leigh, Baptist Press
Joel News International – # 1084 | June 5, 2018