Tuesday, December 27, 2005

JOEL NEWS+LAST FRIDAY FAX

JOEL-NEWS-INTERNATIONAL-532 * 24 DECEMBER 2005

IN THIS EDITION:

1. Miracles lead to new churches in Asia
2. Revival on the Fiji Islands
3. China: how 12-year-old Li rescued 3,000 miners
4. USA: the Luke 10:2b virus breaks out
5. Laos: the gospel from the river
6. The world's largest churches
7. Church planting at University
8. Gaza: how well did Arafat know Jesus?
9. Millennium event: hundreds of thousands of Muslims follow Jesus
10. Muslims and Buddhists find Jesus in Africa and Europe

EDITORIAL: In this last and richly filled edition of 2005 we offer you a final selection of reports from Friday Fax. For more than ten years editor Wolfgang Simson has served the Christian community with fresh 'typically God' stories from all over the world. This week Friday Fax published its last edition. To fill this gap, Joel News International will also be distributed to former subscribers of Friday Fax, starting 1 January.
Wolfgang Simson's inspiration hasn't died out yet; he is now publishing two other newsletters: Friday Fax 2 with teaching and stories on the so-called 'prophetic-apostolic reformation' (www.ffax2.com), and Mammon-Fax, a monthly publication dealing with financial issues. All reports in this edition come from www.bufton.net/fridayfax.

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1. Miracles lead to new churches in Asia

India: dreams in Kashmir
Raju, a devout Muslim, had a dream in which two corpses were lying in the street. According to Islamic tradition, the dead must be buried immediately. Raju buried the first, but the second one spoke to him, saying "I am not dead. I have eternal life, and you can have it too. Go to your friend. He has a black book. Page x tells you how to find eternal life." The following day, Raju visited his friend, who was a secret follower of Isa. His friend opened his "black book" (the Bible), and Raju found eternal
life, just as he had seen in his dream. He has now started 30 house churches!

Caucasus: Marina's repentance
Marina was married to a Wahabi warrior who aimed to exterminate all
Christians. Every day, Marina prayed that Allah would exterminate them. Marina's husband was killed in battle, and her life worsened. Her parents-in-law took her son away from her and chased her away. Then she heard the Gospel, and Isa appeared to her several times. She was baptised about one year ago, and attended the first church planting school in Sochi in May of 2005. Encouraged, she returned to Chechnya to get her son. During
our visit a few weeks ago, she told us that he also likes to worship Isa Masiach, the saviour of the world. Marina's mother suffered from Tuberculosis, and would not listen to the Gospel, so Marina prayed and fasted for her. Isa appeared to her mother, saying "You are healed." She was completely healed, opened her heart to Jesus, and was baptised a few weeks ago.

Bangladesh: "Hey brother, want a ride?"
On a hot day in 1983, Tom, a missionary on his way home in a rickshaw, saw a young man on the side of the road, and asked him if he wanted a ride. The young man, Abdul, had been through a tough time, including being locked in his room, solitary confinement, beatings, death threats and suicide attempts, because he had questioned the Koran. He went home with Tom, who
gave him a Bible. When he returned home, Abdul read the entire New
Testament in one night. John 3:17 astonished him, because it told him that God does not damn people but save them. That very night, he opened his heart to this God! One week later, he had read the entire Bible. His salvation was the start of the most dynamic present-day evangelistic movement in an Islamic nation, currently numbering hundreds of thousands of Muslims now following Isa, and around 10,000 who are baptised each month. That's a millennium event!

India: thousands of churches started in the Himalayas
In the space of only a few years, thousands of house churches have been planted in seven districts of the Indian State Himachal Pradesh, a core Hindu area in northern India on the slopes of the Himalayas. Hundreds of Christians work as full-time missionaries in Randeep Mathews' church planting movement. Only a few years ago, news like this would have been unthinkable.

China: church grows from 70 to 5,000 members in 3 years
If a Western church grew from 70 to 5,000 members in only three years, the Christian media would be all over it. In China, though, churches are experiencing growth considered almost unprecedented in the West. Here's one report: "Guangxi is a province in south-western China, on the Vietnamese border. The city of Guilin, with its unusual cliffs, has become a symbol of China's beauty," reports Dennis Balcombe, leader of Hong Kong's Revival
Christian Church. Spiritually, though, Guangxi was until recently a desert. Idol worship was the normal religion, and the few Christians could not imagine revival. Now, though, the light of the Gospel is burning brightly, and the churches are growing rapidly. Only 3 years ago, a house church in one region had 70 members; today, it has 5,000! The movement is led by a
middle-aged couple; he is a simple and uncomplicated man, she a strong character and conscientious. They were both expelled from the state church in 1998, so started a house church, where they met, sitting on the floor in simple surroundings. Signs and wonders started to happen: the lame walked, the deaf heard, and people were healed of cancer. Everyone in the area recognized the believers' love for one another.

China: three days after funeral raised from the dead
An elderly Christian woman in Sichuan Province became sick and died. Three days after her funeral, the Holy Spirit revealed to another Christian that the dead woman had just returned from Eternity. The woman hurried to the cemetery with her relatives and the church leader. They opened the coffin and saw the dead woman return to life. The woman continually told of how God had raised her from the dead from that time on until she again went to
be with Jesus some years later. Through her testimony, many came to faith and remained staunch under persecution. That church grew the fastest of any in the region.

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2. Revival on the Fiji Islands

The events of the past few years on the Fiji Islands can truly be called revival. Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, a pastor on the islands and Vice President of the ACCF (Association of Christian Churches in Fiji), was invited to the Transform World conference in Jakarta, Indonesia in May 2005, along with over 1,000 Christian leaders from around the globe. The following is an excerpt from his report.

When the righteous increase...
"When the righteous increase, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan." This proverb (Proverbs 29:2) is as true on the Fiji Islands as it is anywhere else in the world. There are two main population groups on the islands: Indians constitute 43% of the population, native Fijians 52%. The Fijians are 99% Christian, the Indians are predominantly Hindu,and Muslims and Sikhs constitute insignificant minorities. The significant
cultural and religious differences between the two main groups has long caused an ethnic rift, which political declarations mostly strengthened more than they reduced.

Elections and Putsches
The Indian-dominated Labor Party won the Parliamentary elections in 1986, and formed their first government. The native Fijians did not like that at all, feeling themselves robbed of their right to rule their own homeland. They immediately mobilised the military to bring down the Indian-led government. The putsch only served to increase the tension between the groups. Even though it was bloodless, the putsch set the reconciliation process back by over ten years. While the nation was still recovering from the first putsch, a second one followed the 1999 elections, which the Labor
Party again won. The Fijian President inaugurated the first Indian Prime Minister, whose term of office turned out to be very short: a young Fijian, Ilikimi Naitini led the coup, holding the Prime Minister and his Cabinet hostage in the Parliament buildings for 56 days. 19 people were killed, and many injured and mistreated. The nation faced even greater suffering than in 1987.

2nd Chronicles 7:14
In this lowest point in the islands' history, the mainly Christian
population turned to God for help, choosing 2nd Chronicles 7:14 as their motto. Everyone prayed, from the members of Fijian high society down to the loneliest villager. Many prayer groups formed in government offices throughout the islands, and tribal leaders and chiefs encouraged their followers to pray. The whole nation prayed to God, and the leaders of the faith put aside their differences, seeking unity. By May 2001, fourteen church leaders followed the call, joining the President of the Methodist
Church on the Fiji Islands to discuss ways of cooperating. Previously, the churches and denominations had kept each other at arm's length because of theological differences. The putsch in May 2000 created just the right atmosphere for the churches to approach each other, and was God's timing for making the impossible possible.

The Association of Christian Churches in Fiji (ACCF) was officially founded by President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda on 8th July 2001. It has four aims:

1. Uniting all churches
2. Putting God's way of love into practice
3. Establishing God-fearing leaders
4. Reconciliation in Fiji, to create peace and prosperity

God answered his people's prayers, giving the Fiji Islands a new government and leadership. A new political party won a dramatic victory in the 2001 elections; all previous leaders disappeared from the political stage almost overnight, and a new government under Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase took over the reins.

When politicians lead by example
The political leaders, starting with the President and Prime Minister,humbly repented for their actions. In 2001, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase asked God for forgiveness in a public ceremony held in Albert Park (covered in George Otis Jr.'s video "Let the Sea Resound"). Soon after his inauguration, Prime Minister Qarase set up the Ministry of National Reconciliation and Unity, and on 8th July 2001, President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda and First Lady Adi Salaseini Kavu Uluivuda lit the
Reconciliation Torch in Albert Park. That event was also the birth of the ACCF.

The Healing of the Land Program was only initiated three years on a very modest scale, but the message of reconciliation, unity and true miracles soon spread and was in great demand. It now has a lot of support on the islands. Healing the Land team leader Savenaca Nakauyaca, the son of leading revival preacher Vuniani Nakauyaca, says "What God is doing here is beyond all imagination. Every evening, the meeting place is full of people coming from the surrounding villages to witness God's move. Believe it or
not, three paralysed people were healed during one meeting, and everyone was astonished. Particularly the younger team members experience God's favour; the team prayed for these invalids, who then walked home on their own two feet. Praise the Lord!" He adds "Instead of going to the hospital, people come from the surrounding villages to the Healing of the Land team camp to be healed."

The process is even influencing the business world. Some examples:
- The number of jobs is growing, and unemployment decreasing. The building industry is booming, with ever more complex projects.
- Tourism is also seeing an immense increase. The hotels are fully booked, and there is not enough accommodation to meet the demand.

A growing number of national leaders are believers, and the people are happy. Smiles have returned to the faces of the women and children on the streets. Foreign confidence in the Fiji Islands has been restored, and foreign investments are growing. Law and order have been restored.

Source: R.E. Kanaimawi. More information: www.sentinelgroup.org

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3. China: how 12-year-old Li rescued 3,000 miners

China is one of the nations in which God most often gives his followers the privilege of experiencing suffering and persecution - but also absolutely breathtaking miracles and demonstrations of His presence. Although Western Christianity has spent a lot of energy to prove that you can have the one without the other, it is generally the combination of cross AND resurrection, suffering AND God's triumph which have the longest-lasting effect on a nation. Asia Harvest's Paul and Joy Hattaway report about another of these experiences:

As another wave of persecution swept through China in the 1950's, pastor Li was arrested in the southern province Guangdong. He was convicted of "counter-revolutionary activities" and sentenced to work in an iron ore mine in farthest north-eastern China. Li's wife and five children, including a new-born baby, had no other means of support; they decided to join pastor Li on his 2,000-mile journey to Heilongjiang, where they would perhaps be able to visit him occasionally, and would be close by should he be miraculously released. They sold everything they owned and bought tickets for the week-long rail journey. When they arrived, they used old
boards and a tarpaulin to build a rickety hut on the road to the labour camp. Pastor Li worked as a slave for 14 hours every day, with miserable food, in temperatures well below freezing. He died after three months. When the family heard the news, they were desperate and deeply depressed. His wife saw no future, and wanted to die. She neglected the children terribly. Finally, she told the children that she would have to look for a job. The eldest daughter said "No, mother, you cannot go to work. The baby needs
you. He cries for you the whole day long. I will go to work." The
12-year-old girl went to the Director of the labour camp, and told him "My father was sent to this God-forsaken place because of his love for Jesus Christ. That was his only crime. He was a good man, who loved people and helped them. Now he is dead, and we have no food, no money and no place to live. We can't even return to the south. I would like to know whether there is some work I could do in the camp." The Director remembered pastor Li,and recognised the girl as his daughter. He gave in to the tiny glimmer of compassion in his heart, and said "I have a job for you, but it is boring,
and pays badly." She took the job immediately.

The Director took her to the place where 3,000 prisoners worked in the iron ore mine. He asked her "Do you see that red button? Your job is to stand next to the button all day, and if someone tells you to press it, you must do so immediately. That is the alarm button, which sets off a siren deep underground. When they hear the siren, the miners get out as fast as they can. You must never press the button by accident, but only when one of us tell you to." So little Sister Li stood next to the button day for day,
week for week. She and her family were overjoyed when she was paid for the first time, although it was only a few dollars. One afternoon, she suddenly heard a voice saying "Press the button!" She turned around, trying to find out who had spoken, but there was nobody there. She heard the same voice again a few moments later, saying "Quickly! Press the button, now!" There
was still nobody to be seen, and she started to think she was losing her mind. She should only press the button in an emergency, and everything looked normal. Seconds later, she heard the voice again, saying "Sister Li, press the button, now!" with great urgency. Only then did she realise that it was her Lord speaking to her. She did not understand why she should press the button, but she knew she had to obey. The siren sounded, and 3,000 men came up to the surface as fast as they could, confused and
curious to find out what had happened. The Director came running out of his office, demanding to know why she had pressed the button. Only a few moments after the last prisoner had left the mine, the area was shaken by a large earthquake. The whole mine collapsed, and nobody has been able to return to it to this day. An eerie silence spread when the earthquake was over, everyone looking at the fragile figure who had pressed the red
button. Finally, the Director managed to ask "Comrade Li, how... how did you know that you had to press the red button?" Li answered as loud as she could, saying "The Lord Jesus Christ told me to press the red button. He told me three times before I did it. Jesus Christ is the only way you can come to know the true and living God. He loves you, and has just demonstrated his love by saving your lives. You must turn from your sins and give your lives to him!" All 3,000 prisoners and the director knelt and
prayed that Jesus would forgive them and come to live in their hearts.

Source: Asia Harvest Newsletter #80, www.asiaharvest.org

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4. USA: the Luke 10:2b virus breaks out

Something very special happened when house church coach John White and Kenny Moore, Southern Baptist Director of Church Planting for the State of Colorado, had breakfast together on October 2, 2002. Both have a passion to see Colorado covered with living expressions of the Body of Christ. While lingering over the last cup of coffee for the morning, their thoughts were turned to the ninth and tenth chapters of Luke. They observed that this was
where the Lord was really shifting gears, where the foundation was laid for all that would follow till the end of the age. Up to this point, the Lord was doing the ministry. Now he was sending out the 12 (Luke 9:1-6) and then the 72 others (Luke 10:1).

"Now there were 42 two-man teams to establish the presence of Christ 'to plant churches' everywhere," writes Jim Montgomery, a respected missionary and publisher of The Great Commission Update. "I would have been ecstatic," says John White, "if I had 42 church-planting teams for the state of Colorado. But what Jesus was saying really astounded us. 'The fields are ripe but these 42 teams are so few.'" The harvest is not the problem. The
critical missing component is an adequate number of harvest workers. How do we get enough apostolic church planters? Luke 10:2b says to do one thing:ask the Lord of the harvest for them. John and Kenny covenanted with each other to pray this "10:2b" prayer together every day possible from that moment on. So every day either John would call Kenny or Kenny would call John to pray. If they didn't connect, they would leave their prayer on voice mail.

800 days later
In the following 30 months, they have followed through on this pledge about 700 or 800 times, saying "God, here we are again, John and Kenny, pleading for more harvest workers for Colorado, just like every day." "Regular prayer, like the poor widow in Luke 18," says White, "can and should become a healthy, regular and hence relentless intercession." Kenny and John started inviting others to do the same, regularly praying the 10:2b prayer in teams. There are now between 200 and 300 people praying 10:2b with a partner virtually every day. The 10:2b virus is spreading!

Amazing results
"And the results have been amazing," says White. "We're to the point where we get a phone call or e-mail almost every day from someone saying something like this: 'It?s in my heart to plant a (house or simple) church. How do I do that? Can you help me?'" Kenny Moore used to get six or eight people over the course of six months who would indicate a desire to start a new church. He now has a steady stream of inquiries, and there have been around 100 Southern Baptist Churches established in Colorado alone from the time he and White began praying 10:2b together.

Tim Pynes had been on the staff of a large, post-modern church in Denver. With so many programs in this mega-facility, Pynes found he had merely turned into a project manager. "This is not what I signed up for," he told White. "I want to invest in the lives of people." He left the megachurch and started meeting White. He now has a growing network of 8 house churches in Denver. Guy Muse, a Southern Baptist missionary in Ecuador, has been encouraging all of his house church people to pray the10:2b prayer on a daily basis since May of 2004. "In that month of May alone, 30 new
congregations were established," he reports.

"Cast out", not "send forth"
The Greek word for "send forth" in Luke 10:2b, ekballein, was a very forceful, almost violent, term. It is the word used when casting out a demon, for example. White and Moore realised that they should not pray for potential labourers who may be interested, but for highly-motivated people who God had taken and, as only he can, placed with gentle force in the harvest. It seems to work...

Source: Jim Montgomery and John White, DenverWH@aol.com

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5. Laos: the gospel from the river

"It started under a banana tree," says a Christian from the southern Asian nation Laos. "I was hunting birds for my meal when a man from the neighbouring village sat down beside me and started talking. We spoke about our families, and I told him about my sick wife and mother, who were both tormented by evil spirits. I had already sacrificed twelve water buffalo, but without success. The visitor told me about Sipak, a man from his village, who had seen healings performed in the name of a God called Jesus. A few days later, my wife and my mother both died. In my desperation, I
went to the other village to find this Sipak. He told me all about Jesus, how he had come to Earth to free us from the bondage of evil spirits. He also told me about God, the Creator, who loved me so much that he sent his son to die for me. I sensed a supernatural love and power in Sipak, and decided to follow this Jesus. I was immediately filled with peace and joy, and started telling others about my experience. Within a few days, four
other families from my village accepted Jesus into their lives.

A book instead of fish
Soon, though, our faith was put to the test. I was arrested by the police, along with two of the other new Christians. They wanted to force us to sign a declaration recanting our faith. We refused, and were sent to a labour camp. We had to work hard during the day, and at night, our feet were locked into painful stocks, preventing us from sleeping. After several weeks, twelve Christians were called forward at the morning roll-call. To
our astonishment, the camp chief said "You're good people and can go home. But I warn you: don't talk with others about your faith, or you'll be back here soon." Back in our village, the oppression continued; the police came almost every day to force us into a confession. After a while, one of our younger Christians could no longer stand the pressure, and signed the declaration. To remove all traces of his Christianity, he tied his New Testament to a stone and threw it into the river. Three days later, a group
of men from our village went fishing. When they drew in their nets, they were surprised to find a book instead of fish. To their even greater astonishment, the book was dry and undamaged! They immediately started reading, and were excited by the message. It was the supposedly disposed-of New Testament. Through this miracle, 24 families from our village started a personal relationship with Jesus."

Source: AvC

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6. The world's largest churches

Even though influence is more important than size today, taking a look at the attendance numbers of the world's largest churches gives an impression of the developments in recent years. Much is changing: churches which had an attendance of 300,000 a decade ago, such as 'Ondas del Luz y Amor' in Buenos Aires, now have 'only' 70,000. Completely new models are popping up,
such as the Indian University which became a church, regularly seeing 80,000 people attending. The membership of mega churches fluctuates strongly, so the numbers here are the attendance, not members. Yonggi Cho's church in Seoul claims a membership of 773,000, but an attendance of 'only' 253,000 in the main church and most important satellites.

What is church?
The church is starting to see itself completely differently, that is one trend which is growing stronger. It is no longer understood as a single organised fellowship (with a pastor, a building, a programme and a more or less creative name), but as an organic community of Christians in towns and regions, the sum of the members of related house churches, cells, groups and fellowships. This gives the church, as in the times of Acts, a regional
instead of denominational identity. "The church in Corinth", Ephesus, Antioch or Jerusalem corresponds today to "The church in Berlin", Boulder, Beijing or Brasilia.

Regional house church networks are replacing mega churches
Such regional churches are not led by a 'Senior Pastor', but by regional teams, generally formed by the coalescing of the fivefold ministry. It is very noticeable that the traditional pastoral ministry tends not to play the key role, but rather people with an apostolic or prophetic gifting, as hinted at in 1. Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 2:20. Christian community and unity is formed by belonging to the same region or town; unity is lived out in networked house churches and large celebrations, or at least in leaders'
meetings in places where Christians are heavily persecuted. One of the smaller(!) house church networks in southern China has an attendance of 400,000, larger networks number several million. The twenty largest regional (not national) house church networks in China, Vietnam and northern India would completely change the list below. For security reasons, we cannot publish any names or other details, with the exception of V. Choudhrie in India, because most if not all such large regional house church networks exist in nations which persecute or repress Christians. They generally belong to the group which missiologist Prof. David Barrett
calls 'Crypto-Christians' ? underground Christianity. We believe that there are around twenty regional house church networks around the globe with an attendance of over 250,000. Hence, the list below starts with the world's previously largest known church, the Yoido Full Gospel Church, ranked 21st.

Which are today's trend-setting nations?
These developments started outside the West (North America, Europe,
Australia and New Zealand), so many Western pastors and Christian leaders find it difficult to take seriously. Many still understand the West to be the centre of Christianity, as in 1700, from which missionaries are sent out to complete the Great Commission. Traditionally, the USA, Britain or Germany have been the trendsetting nations in the church. That is where the
influential publishing houses have their headquarters; the overwhelming majority of Christian conference speakers, authors, seminars and concepts for pastor training originate there, but is seems that many are asking "What good thing can come out of Vietnam, Northern India, China, Indonesia,Nigeria, Nicaragua, Honduras, Trinidad or Argentina?" And yet exactly these
? and other ? non-Western nations are home to the most important trends in missionary Christianity. Are we listening?

What about the USA?
Up until now, mega churches were a typically American phenomenon. It is striking, then, that not one of the world's forty largest churches is in the USA or another Western nation. The really significant church growth is taking place basically outside the West. The Washington Post recently published a study by church researcher John N. Vaughn revealing 840 mega churches in the USA, with a weekly attendance of over 2,000 (figures of 13th May 2004).

The top 5 are:

Leader: Church (Average attendance)
J. Osteen: Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas (25,060)
Creflo Dollar: World Changers, College Park, GA. (23,093)
Rick Warren: Saddleback Community Church, Lake Forrest, CA (20,100)
T.D. Jakes: The Potters House, Dallas (18,500)
Ed Young: Fellowship Church, Grapevine, Texas (18,129)

The world's largest churches:
Rank. Leader: Church (Average attendance)
21. Yonggi Cho: Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea (253,000)
22. Dijon Roberts: Works and Mission Baptists Church, Abidjan, Ivory Coast (150,000)
22. Javier Vasquez: Yotabeche Methodist P. Church, Santiago, Chile (150,000)
22. C. Castellanos: Mision Carismatica Internacional, Bogot?, Colombia (150,000)
25. William Kumuyi: Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, Nigeria(120,000)
26. Mario Vega: Elim Church, San Salvador, El Salvador (117,000)
27. Nambu Full Gospel, Seoul, Korea (110,000)
28. Yong Mok Cho: AOG Grace and Truth, Kyanggi-do, Korea (105,000)
29. Hong do Kim: Kum Ran Methodist, Seoul, Korea (80,000)
30. Omar Cabrera: Vision de Futuro, Santa Fe, Argentina (70,000)
30. Hector Gimenez Ondas del Luz, Buenos Aires, Argentina (70,000)
32. Pastor Oh: Young Nak Presbyterian Church, S. Korea (60,000)
33. David Oyedepa: Winners Chapel, Ota, Nigeria (50,000)
34. R.B. Lal: Yesu Darbar, Allahabad Agricultural Institute, India
(40,000-80,000)
35. Yi Hoon-Moon: Soong Eui Methodist, Inchon, Korea (47,000)
36. Misael Argenal: Ministeria La Cosecha, San Pedro Sula, Honduras (35,000)
37. V. Choudhrie: Chattisgarh/Madhya Pradesh House Church Network, India
(30,000)

Source: Wolfgang Simson

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7. Church planting at University

Six years ago, Jason Ma sat in an introductory lecture for Philosophy. Suddenly, the Professor asked "Who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" Jason and one of his friends were the only two who raised their hands in a class of 100 students. Jason could not believe that most of his fellow students had no idea what Jesus offered them, so he started prayer walking
in the University, asking God to do something so that the 28,000 students would come to know him. God open doors for Jason; the University officials were sympathetic to his aims, granting him permission to hold evangelistic rallies. Hundreds were saved.

No connection
Jason soon realised, though, that very few managed to find a place in a church after becoming Christian. "To be completely honest," says Jason, "most of the churches around the University had nothing to offer students. Nobody had any idea what to do with them. Some students met for Bible study, but when they left University, the problem remained; they could not find a place in a traditional church. I found the same problem at other universities. Most students see church as boring, irrelevant and
hypocritical, despite the fact that they themselves are empty, hurt and suffering, seeking true love in drugs, parties, sex and good grades. Many became depressive, some were close to suicide."

Bringing church to the students, not the other way around Gripped by this state of affairs, Jason began to pray. He discovered that
it is much better to bring church to the students, not the other way around. After much research, including studying China's underground house church movement, he became convinced that relationship-oriented "simple church" was best suited for reaching students. He read about 18-year-old Chinese girls who had planted over 100 house churches in one year, although they had only been Christians for a few years themselves. The churches which he investigated in China were networks of small fellowships of 15-30
members which met in houses and small shops to share their lives every day and follow Jesus together.

"If an 18-year-old Chinese girl can plant 100 churches each year in China, why shouldn't a student plant a few at University?" Jason asked himself. He realised that, similar to the Biblical concept of a 'house of peace' or 'a man or woman of peace', a missionary can win 'a student of peace' for Christ, who will in turn win his circle of friends for Christ, thus forming
a small church. One single church would of course never be able to reach the very diverse student community, so he started viewing every student group as an unreached people group, with the aim of starting a church among them. These new churches with 15-20 members would meet somewhere, and if they grew, would not look for somewhere larger to meet, but divide, thus multiplying. They could meet anywhere - in dormitories, apartments, Student Union rooms, classrooms or the coffee shop across the street. So he started
planting churches at his University. They later sent missionaries to other universities to do the same; Campus Church Networks (CCN) was born, starting at the San Jose State University in 1998, and is spreading.

The 13/30 Window
Missiologists created the term '10/40 Window' to describe the geographical region between 10? and 40? latitude; many consider this to be the least evangelised region in the world. "The 13/30 Window is probably more important," says Jason. He means people between the ages of 13 and 30, where the greatest harvest potential for the Gospel is probably to be found today. "That group," he says, "is amazingly open for the Gospel." Surveys
show that 90% of all Christians decided to follow Jesus before their 25th birthday. This is also the most important group, because they are the future of the world and the church.

60% under 25 years old
Statistics reveal that 60% of the global population is under 25 years old; 30% - 1.7 billion people - is between 10 and 24 years old. Studies by the Barna Reasearch Group showed Jason that the 18-to 25-year-olds are the group least likely to attend a church. The majority of students who attended church during school no longer did so at the end of their studies. Jason concludes that "we desperately need completely new churches for the new generation, because the traditional form of church simply does not work
in America. Post-modern youths no know standards, believe basically
anything and want to experience God for themselves. They will not sit in pews, listening to someone preach forever, but want to put their faith into practice."

Statistics from the American Society for Church Growth from 1999 show that American churches lose 2.76 million people to secularism or nominal Christianity and that between 3,000 and 4,000 churches close each year. In the past decade, the active membership of all Protestant denominations has shrunk by 9.5% (around 4.5 million people), compared to a population growth of 11% (24.2 million) in the same period. Half of all churches have not gained a single new believer. "That," Jason recognises, "doesn't need a new committee, it needs a revolution."

Where are the revolutionaries?
His motto became "Start a revolution, start a campus church!" On CCN's web site, he writes "Every revolution begins with a revolutionary. Are you prepared to be one? Is there already a Campus Church at your University? If not, you should start one..." Campus Church Networks is a relational church planting movement led by students, challenging and training students to plant new churches for a new generation at every university in the world.

Source and information: Jason Ma, www.campuschurch.net and info at
campuschurch.net

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8. Gaza: how well did Arafat know Jesus?

Arafat is dead. He died on 11th November 2004. Where is he now? Did he know the Gospel of Christ? "I regularly had the opportunity to meet with Arafat and explain the Gospel to him," says Brother Andrew, famous Bible smuggler, evangelist and founder of the missions agency Open Doors. Andrew gave Arafat a Bible on his daughter's first birthday, and was given permission to open a Bible store on Palestinian territory. Hundreds of Muslim
fundamentalists who now know Brother Andrew personally, particularly from the militant group Hamas, have collected a Bible or the Jesus Film from the store. How did this happen?

Jesus loves terrorists
In his latest book, Light Force: A Stirring Account of the Church Caught in the Middle East Crossfire, which he wrote together with Al Janssen, Brother Andrew details how God opened the doors for him all the way to Arafat. Janssen and Brother Andrew emphasise that with Jesus' love, it is possible to reach every person, including Hamas terrorists. "I sometimes doubt that we Christians really believe that," says Janssen. "We say that God loves
the whole world, but when we hear that some terrorist group commits a crime, we say 'They deserve the death penalty!' We picture some nameless enemy instead of a human being perhaps desperately seeking answers."

Bible study with a terrorist
"It really opened my eyes to speak with the man who brought us into contact with Islamic Jihad," Janssen recalls. "He said 'I have spent 15 years in jail, and read the Koran and the Bible. Then I decided to become a devout Muslim.' He had some very specific questions about the Old Testament, such as the destruction of the Jews in Zachariah. He was asking questions about
prophecy, and I suddenly thought 'Wait a moment! I'm sitting here with a member of Islamic Jihad, studying the Bible, discussing Zachariah, which half of the Christians I know have not even read.' Then I realised that God was at work in this man's life. Brother Andrew gave him an Arab version of 'God's Smuggler', his life story. The next day, the man had already read half of it, and asked 'Do you have any more books? Bring me everything you can!'"

Going where no one else will
"If nobody goes to tell terrorists the Gospel, how will they ever hear it?" Brother Andrew, who has always liked to go where no one else does, says of himself "If I, a simple Dutchman without even a proper schooling, can have such a ministry, then anyone can!" In 1992, 415 Hamas members were deported from Israel, and interned in a camp on the side of a mountain in southern Lebanon. Andrew visited them to find out how they were. "They were people
like anyone else. Through our visit, we built relationships with them, and I was able to speak with hundreds of Hamas terrorists about the Gospel." He was perhaps the only Evangelical Christian ever to speak about Christianity at the Islamic University in Gaza - at the invitation of the Hamas leader.
"We are not responsible for how these people respond to our message, but they had the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Today, the Palestinian Bible Society and the Bible Society of Israel are doing a great work among Palestinians," says Janssen.

7,000 Israeli Christians, 70,000 Palestinian
Janssen summarizes the facts influencing Christianity in the Middle East: "Christianity has existed in the Holy Land for 2,000 years. At the time Israel was founded in 1948, some 15% of the Arab population were Christians. Many of them were business leaders, and as times grew harder,they had more opportunity to flee to Europe or the USA. The number of Christians declined, and is now less than 2% of the Palestinian population." "I estimate that there are some 7,000 Christians in Israel,
and around 70,000 Christian Palestinians - ten times as many. That may surprise many Christians in the West, because they do not realise how many Palestinians are Christians," says Brother Andrew. "Christians are a minority in both populations, caught up in the midst of the conflict. With our book, we want to point out to the worldwide Body of Christ how this part of the Body is doing."

Source: Open Doors, www.opendoors.org

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9. Millennium event: hundreds of thousands of Muslims follow Jesus

Some things only happen every couple of hundred years, others only every couple of thousand. This and the next Friday Fax are dedicated to one of these millennium events.

Fourteen centuries ago, Islam overran previously Christian nations such as Egypt and Tunesia. For the past thousand years, particularly since the barbarous "Christian" crusades and the development of un-Biblical westernised religious church traditions, Christians have found it difficult to win Muslims for the Gospel. Islam, with 1.4 billion adherents, is the world's second-largest religion after traditional Christianity which has
proven resistant to the Biblical Gospel. As a young Christian, I heard only one message about Islam: "it is practically impossible to win Muslims for Christ" - a message from Hell, in my opinion, born out of centuries of pseudo-missionary frustration. Ineffective missionary methods, non-integrative churches and a fantastic lack of faith among top Christian leaders right up to the 1990's combined to create a climate of missionary
unbelief. In 1982, only 2% of all Christian missionaries were working among Muslims - a ridiculously small proportion.

5,000 120,000 522,000
Yesterday, I ate lunch with three missionaries working among Muslims. One of them said "In the past two years, I've seen over 5,000 Muslims come to faith in Jesus in northern India. The work is growing so fast that the number will very likely soon pass 50,000. They meet in multipliable house churches, and ever more Mullahs are joining the movement..." Another told "From our own experience and through other reliable sources, we know that
in Bangladesh, 7,000 Muslims were baptised each month in 2003. They are radical followers of Jesus. In 2004, an incredible 120,000 joined them. Since 1997, the number of Muslims following Jesus has grown by 522,000. "522,000? That's more than the number of evangelical Christians in Switzerland, Austria and France together! Is that possible? What happened? Baptist missiologist and author David Garrison says "More Muslims have come
to Christ in the past two decades than at any other point in history. In North Africa, 16,000 Muslim Berbers turned to Jesus; in a central Asian republic, 4,000 Muslims have found Christ; 15,000 Kazakh Muslims found Christ in the past 15 years. In an appearance on Al Jazeera, Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani, a leading teacher of Islamic clerics in Libya, said 'Every hour, 667 Muslims turn to Christianity, 16,000 every day, 6 million each
year!' Those numbers are certainly exaggerated, but show that Islamic experts recognise what is happening: a massive missionary movement of Muslims to Christ."

A vision becomes reality
Let me use Kevin Greeson's story as an example of what's happening. Greeson is a Baptist missionary in southern Asia. In his book "Camel Training" published in 2004, he writes "In September 1997, I lay down on my hotel bed in Singapore, where I was attending missionary training. Before going to sleep, I saw a vision of thousands of Muslims in Bangladesh going to Hell.
The vision's realism gripped me so strongly that I began to weep - for the first time in 22 years. The scene changed, though; the Muslims were given a new directive, were re-routed and went to Heaven. The next day, I was excited to hear that 30,000 US Christians had taken part in a prayer campaign for the people group among which I wanted to work, and that they had been praying the very hour I had my vision. My first years there as a
missionary brought no fruit; after two years, we had gathered 23 women who worked weaving baskets for export to the West. Then we heard of Abdul (name changed).

Learning from Abdul
Abdul was a local church planter, and himself a saved Muslim - or Isahi(one who belongs to Isa/Jesus). In 1998, he had seen 50,000 Muslims baptised, and 8,000 churches planted by 2003. He was doing something differently, and we learned from him to do them differently too. We told the women to invite their husbands to a meeting; they all brought their husbands or fathers, and we explained verses from the Koran which speak of
Jesus, showing him to be far more than just a prophet. They were excited and angry - excited, because they recognised the truth about Isa (Jesus), and angry about their Imams (islamic pastors), who had withheld the truth from them. Then we showed them the Jesus Film in their language. What then happened was unbelievable; the men insisted on meeting again the next day. For four days, they sat there and listened to the Gospel. They all turned
to Jesus, and six new jamaats (house churches) were formed. Over the following 2 1/2 years, our team saw 4,500 Muslims baptised and 314 new churches started. Two years later, the number of churches had grown to over 800. The movement is still growing. What did we teach the Muslims which made them so open for Christ? It has something to do with a camel..."

When Muslims throw the Koran in the river
"One morning in May 1999, I read a report in Bangladeshi national
newspaper, quoting a Member of Parliament who stood before his colleagues and asked 'What is happening to our religion? Muslims in the capital are throwing their Koran in the trash, and in one district, they even throw the Koran in the river.' What was going on? One day, an Imam held the Koran up in the Mosque, saying 'This book has done nothing to improve our lives.' Then he threw the book in the river. The congregation of around 4,000 men followed their leader's example, throwing their Korans in the river too."

What comes after resignation?
Kevin Greeson's report shows something of the inner erosion happening in Islam. But many adherents of other religions and religious subsystems are just as resigned. Just as traditional Constantine churchianity, Animism or Buddhism, the core of Islam does not help people live their lives, but generally just preserves the status quo of poverty, difficulties, uncertainty and illness for most and riches for a privileged minority. On
top of all that, religion can only superficially answer the questions every person faces: why am I here, what am I supposed to be doing, where am I headed? The Bangladeshi Imam spoke for many in his recognition of the truth. In this phase of religious resignation, most people simply perform religious rites perfunctorily, outwardly going with the flow, inwardly
questioning. Many Muslims, for example, wonder about Allah's secret 100th name...

The camel knows
Every Muslim knows that Allah has 99 names, and many know of a tradition which says that only a camel knows his 100th name. That name is 'Isa'! The Koran, the Muslims' holy book, does not answer the question directly, but gives enough clear hints. Many experienced missionaries start a conversation with Muslims with the words "I have discovered an amazing truth in the Koran, which gives hope of eternal life in paradise. Would you please read me Sure Al-Imran 3:42-55?"

The Koran teaches that Jesus knows the way to heaven
This Sure says three things about Isa (Jesus) which clearly lift him above the status of a prophet: Isa is holy (3:42-48), has power over death(49-54) and knows the way to heaven (55-56). This is a shock for many Muslims, because what does the Koran say about Mohammed? The surest answer is to say that Mohammed is what he said of himself; in Sure 46:9-10, he says "I am nothing new among prophets; I do not know what will become of me or my followers. I am just a voice of warning."

If Mohammed is nothing different or more than all the prophets before him,and did not claim to be the greatest prophet of all, did not know where he or his followers would go after death, and professes to simply be a voice of warning, the contrast with Jesus' statements about himself (for example John 6:47 and 14:1-7) could hardly be greater. If you then ask a Muslim "I want to go to heaven when I die. Which prophet can help me get there?", the
result is often a process leading them to read the Injil (New Testament)and find Jesus. Information from the Koran (very important for Muslims)reveals Jesus to be clearly more than just a prophet, and endows him practically with saviour status. "The Koran does not contain enough light to show someone the way to salvation, but enough small candles to guide seekers the right way," says Greeson.

For God's sake, don't bring Muslims to church!
Greeson sees four aspects which are decisive in helping Muslims find Christ and remain in him:

1.Speak in a way that Muslims understand. 'Canaanite' language is as much a hindrance as calling yourself a Christian, which is so culturally and historically laden that Muslims understand "A person with Western culture, ungodly and immoral." The word 'Isahi' (follower of Isa) is far better.

2.Cultural conformity is not a hindrance, but builds important bridges. Paul became a Jew to the Jews, and a Greek to the Greek. Followers of Jesus must learn to overcome their fear of the unknown and foreign cultures through love.

3.Send out early. Where Muslims who become Isahis are taught and sent out early, they win others to Christ and plant new churches, thus starting a movement with church multiplication as one of its basic principles. Christians who do not understand this and claim that these things need significantly more time are a serious hindrance, and should be avoided.

4."Please do not bring newly-saved Isahis to existing traditional
churches!" advises Greeson. That tears them out of their cultural
surroundings, and causes them to be rejected by their friends and family - exactly the people which a church planting movement should reach. A far better strategy is to start culturally relevant Jamaats (meetings). House churches provide an ideal structure. "So if Muslims do not come to church,
we take the church to the Muslims!"

Source: Kevin Greeson, "Camel Training Manual", available from
www.churchplantingmovements.com/camel_training_manual.htm.

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10. Muslims and Buddhists find Jesus in Africa and Europe

Somalia: first Somali church
This is the first Friday Fax news item about Somalia! We have only
mentioned it once before, in 2002, when it was listed as the least-reached nation in the world, with only one evangelical Christian for every 67,314 inhabitants. German missionaries in Somalia have just sent us the following news: "For 15 years, Somalia has stood for anarchy, hunger, death, violence and refugees. The nation has now managed to form a new Government. Many Somalis have experienced death-bringing hate, and know that Islam never
managed to bring peace to their nation. When they hear that Jesus prayed for his murderers while on the cross, they are deeply touched. Perhaps God had to allow the situation in Somalia in order to open the people for the Gospel. For decades, there were very few Christians, and even today, many pay for their faith with their life. Now, though, couples and even entire
families are coming to Jesus, and children are hearing the Word of God in the churches. A dream held by missionaries for decades has just been fulfilled: a few months ago, a number of Somali groups joined to plant a church. Even Government officials have to admit that their nation is no longer 100% Moslem. The new Christians are growing in faith and assuming more and more responsibility..."
Source: Name and address withheld

Egypt: cleaner Adel has some special soap
"Adel works as a cleaner in an Egyptian school," writes mission agency 'Ziel 19' (Target 19). "He carries buckets of water, brushes and cloths. One day, in conversation with a teacher, he spoke about his uncle, a pastor, who had created a Bible correspondence course. The teacher was interested, so Adel brought her the first lesson, which she found very good. When she had received the third lesson, she told another teacher about it, and he also wanted to take the course, so Adel started bringing
two copies of the course to school - 'The Word of God, soap for the soul', as the missions agency describes it. The word soon spread, and almost all teachers were taking it, so Adel was carrying folders full of the correspondence courses to and from the school as well as his buckets. Then it reached the Principal, who was so impressed with the course that he called all the teachers together and encouraged them to share it with their
relatives. The school became the distribution centre, with Adel as the postman."
Source: Schweizerische Missionsgemeinde (Swiss Mission Church), Ziel 19,
Josefstr. 206, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland.

Germany: Buddhist meets Jesus in coma
"I work in on a hospital ward for terminally ill patients," writes Eva-E. M?ller-de Ahna from Munich. "I spoke with a nurse about Christianity and experiences with dying people. I had just read a very good book (George Ritchie, Return from Tomorrow). The author had died in a field hospital when he was 20 years old, and taken to the mortuary. To the astonishment of the doctors and nurses, he returned to life. He experienced many wonderful things while dead, including meeting Jesus. The nurse I was talking to told me of a similar case: her uncle had married a practising Buddhist whose
father, also a Buddhist, suffered a heart attack and was taken to a Munich hospital, where he spent several days in a coma in intensive care. When he awoke from the coma, he continually pointed at the cross hanging on the wall. The nurses asked him if the cross offended him as a Buddhist, and whether they should take it down. He shook his head, but continued to point at the cross. When he could finally speak again, he said that he had met
Jesus in his coma. Jesus told him that he would awake from the coma and live for another fourteen days. He should be baptised, and Jesus would wait for him. The patient insisted on being baptised immediately, and died exactly fourteen days after waking from the coma."

Source: Eva-E. M?ller-de Ahna in GGE Deutschland, September 2004,
www.gge-online.de

Iran: Armenian woman meets Jesus on her death bed "An Armenian woman lay dying in hospital," reports Open Doors in their
latest monthly bulletin. "The doctors discharged her, so that she could die at home. She was a Christian, at least in name, but her faith never meant much to her. One day, she suffered an attack of self-pity while lying in bed waiting for her Muslim neighbours to visit. Her gaze wandered to a picture of Jesus on her wall. 'Why don't you help me?' she complained. Suddenly, Jesus started speaking. Somehow, he appeared in her room, and said 'I've been wanting to come to you, but you never invited me.' He touched her softly, and the woman gave him her life. Right then, there came
a knock at the door - the Muslim neighbour and his wife had come. As they came into the room, they sensed that something was different. The room was still filled with the glory of Jesus' presence. They both fell to their knees, and the Armenian woman told them what had happened. The couple were so shocked that they both gave their lives to Jesus. Since then, nine of the husband's employees have also been saved."
Source: Open Doors

Egypt: when the demon leaves the bus
"That was too much for some of the travellers - pale and shocked, they stared at a young man who had just been delivered from a demon," reports missions agency Ziel 19 ('Target 19'). Mrs. F. W., an Egyptian evangelist, was travelling in bus, and noticed another passenger who made strange noises, rolled his eyes and occasionally writhed in his seat. The other passengers just looked away, until F.W. was overcome with a 'holy anger'. She turned to the man and said loudly "In the name of Jesus, leave him! And
leave the bus!" To everyone's astonishment, the man grunted a little and shook himself, then looked around with bright eyes, saying "Hey! He's gone! I can feel it! Whatever you did with me, thank you!" He laughed and was clearly very pleased. The demon had left him and, obviously, the bus - nobody else was visibly affected. F.W. remained in the bus longer than she planned, telling about the Gospel and freedom in Christ, because the young
man and a number of the other shocked passengers had many questions. And that despite the fact that it is unusual for a woman to speak to men in Egypt, particularly in a packed bus.

Source: Andrea Xandry, Ziel 19, Schweizerische Missionsgemeinde,
Josefstrasse 206, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland

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COLOPHON

Joel News is an international e-zine with news reports and articles on prayer, revival and church growth. It aims at leaders, intercessors, church planters and other Christians who carry a vision for the advance of God's Kingdom in every sphere of life. The reports are meant to encourage, challenge and inform. A keen selection of only the most relevant entries from over a hundred reliable sources in six continents, make Joel News a great help and time-saver for Christians in ministry.

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