- "We are your friends" says Israeli Prime Minister to Iranian people
- Indonesian President vows to do more for persecuted Christians
- Chinese President Xi Jinping steps up as global leader challenging US supremacy
- Trump and the future of NATO
- 100 000 Killed in Yemen conflict
- Pakistan Prime Minister defends religious minorities
- Trump to offer Putin sanction-nuclear deal
- Several thousand US troops arrive in Poland in show of strength against Russia
- US set for confrontation with China over South China Seas
- Swim Classes - the new front line for Muslim integration into Europe
- Christians remain the most persecuted group in the world
- Influential voice against Iranian hardliners dies
- China sends first freight train to London
- Islamic State claims deadly Istanbul nightclub attack
- 59 Killed in Baghdad as terrorists continue to target the city
Did you know?
5 December 2016
How well do you know the Christmas story?
Most of us know the general outline because we’ve heard or sung it or watched it being enacted in the Christmas programs that most churches offer during December. We know about the shepherds, the angels, the “Wise Men,” the star, the innkeeper, the long journey of Mary and Joseph, the baby in the manger, and we know about the gold, frankincense and myrrh. But how much of what we know is tradition and how much comes from the Bible?
For the last several years David Langerfeld, associate pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, has given a Christmas IQ test to his Sunday School class. I should warn you that this is a tough quiz. When I took it, I missed several questions.
Try taking it first without checking the Bible to see how well you know the real Christmas story. The answers are below:
1. Joseph was originally from... (Luke 2:3)
E. None of the above
2. What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above
3. A manger is a...
A. Stable for domestic animals
B. Wooden hay storage bin
C. Feeding trough
4. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows, sheep, goats
B. Cows, donkeys, goats
C. Sheep and goats only
D. Miscellaneous barnyard animals
E. None of the above
5. Who saw the star in the east?
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three kings
D. Both A and C
E. None of the above
6. According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
E. Horse-drawn chariot
F. Who knows?
7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds? (Luke 2:10)
D. None of the above
8. What did the angels say/sing? (Luke 2:14)
A. “Glory to God in the highest, etc.”
C. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
D. “Joy the world, the Lord is come”
E. “Glory to the newborn King”
9. What is a heavenly host?
A. The angel at the gate of heaven
B. The angel who serves refreshments in heaven
C. An angel choir
D. An angel army
E. None of the above
10. There was snow that first Christmas...
A. Only in Bethlehem
B. All over Israel
C. Nowhere in Israel
D. Somewhere in Israel
11. What is frankincense?
A. A precious metal
B. A precious fabric
C. A precious perfume
D. None of the above
12. In Matthew, what does “wise men” or “Magi” refer to?
A. Men of the educated class
B. Eastern kings
C. Men who studied the stars
13. What is myrrh?
A. Middle Eastern money
B. A drink
C. An easily shaped metal
D. A spice used for burying people
E. None of the above
14. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
E. We don’t know.
15. Where did the wise men find Jesus? (Matthew 2:11)
A. In a manger
B. In a stable
C. In Nazareth
D. In Saudi Arabia
E. In a house
F. None of the above
16. When the wise men found Jesus he was... (Matthew 2:11)
A. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
B. A young child
C. A boy in the temple
D. A grown man
17. The “star in the east” that the wise men followed... (Matthew 2:9)
A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
B. Disappeared and reappeared
C. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
D. Was just a mirage
E. None of the above
18. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem... (Matthew 2:2)
A. To inform Herod about Jesus
B. To find out where Jesus was
C. To ask about the star
D. To buy presents
E. None of the above
19. Where do we find the Christmas story?
E. All of the above
F. Only A and B
G. Only A and C
H. Only A, B and C
20. When Joseph found Mary was pregnant, what happened?
A. They got married
B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
C. Mary left town for three months
D. A and B
E. B and C
21. Who told (made) Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (Luke 2:1-5)
A. The angel chorus
B. Mary’s mother
D. The shepherds
E. Caesar Augustus
Here are the answers to David Langerfeld’s Christmas IQ Quiz.
1. A. He worked and lived in Nazareth, but he was returning to Bethlehem – “his own city” (See Luke 2:3).
2. E. The innkeeper didn’t “say” anything (See Luke 2:7). The Bible doesn’t even mention an “innkeeper” because the “inn” was probably more like a guest room in a house.
3. C. Feeding trough – Interestingly enough, most mangers in New Testament times were made of stone. If you visit Israel today, you can see stone mangers used by Solomon to feed his horses at Megiddo.
4. E. The Bible doesn’t say, we just assume that since Jesus was born in a stable that there were various barnyard animals present. This is really a double assumption because the Bible doesn’t mention a barn or a stable. However, the feeding trough was used by animals so a stable or barn adjoining a home would be a reasonable inference.
5. E. This is a “trick” question. The “magi” saw the star. However, the Bible doesn’t say how many there were and they were not kings, but astronomers (see answer 14).
6. F. Although the modern “pictures” in my Children’s Bible show Mary on a donkey with Joseph beside her, the Bible doesn’t say!
7. A. Luke 2:10. A semi-trick question because verses 13-14 record what the angel company said as they praised God together. However, only one angel spoke directly to the shepherds.
8. A. Luke 2:14.
9. D. The word means “army” – literally thousands. Now, since there was a “multitude” of the heavenly army” (hosts), there could easily have been from 10,000 – 100,000 angels there that night! No wonder the shepherds were “sore afraid"!
10. D. Another trick question. There is always snow on Mt. Hermon.
11. C. Frankincense was used in the temple worship of the Lord. It represents his deity because he is truly God born in human flesh.
12. C. The word “Magi” literally means “star-gazers”. Although there is no Biblical record of exactly who they were or their point of origin, It could be assumed that they were descendants of the “wise men” of Babylon, that God, in His great providence, used Daniel (while he was in captivity in Babylon), to teach these men about future events – including the birth of the Savior of the world. Read Daniel 5:11 – Daniel was put in charge of these men!
13. D. Herod was buried with over 150 lbs. of Myrrh wrapped in his burial clothes. Myrrh was used in embalming in those days. John 19:39 tells us that Jesus’ body was bound in linen wrappings along with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. The gift of myrrh pictures his suffering and death.
14. E. We don’t know. They were magi, not wise men – but the Bible doesn’t give the number. Many people assume that there were three because of the three gifts. However, in ancient times these men usually traveled in caravans of ten to twelve, along with a full entourage for protection.
15. E. Read Matthew 2:11 (see next answer)
16. B. Read Matthew 2:11 When the Shepherds found Jesus (Luke 2), he was a “babe” in a manger. The Greek word used in Luke 2 is for a “newborn baby”. However, by the time the Magi appeared, Jesus had been moved from the manger to a house (verse 11) and the Greek word used in Matthew is for “toddler or young child”. He was probably somewhere between 12-24 months old. In many of our Christmas programs, we bring the magi and the shepherds to worship Jesus together at the manger. Nice thought and it makes for a beautiful scene, but it didn’t happen that way. The shepherds were there the night Jesus was born. The magi came months later.
17. C. Read Matthew 2:9 Most people miss this question. The star did not stay stationary over the manger or the house. This verse makes it clear that the star moved “in front” of the magi and guided them till it “stood over where the young child was.”
18. B. Read Matthew 2:2. They assumed Herod would know. I find it fascinating that although the scribes knew exactly where the Messiah was to be born (according to Micah 5:2), they were not interested enough to travel the four or five miles to Bethlehem to see for themselves. (Several commenters note that the Magi wouldn’t have known Jesus’ name. Very true, which is part of what makes this quiz tricky–and so much fun. They were looking for the one born “King of the Jews.” They would have found out later that his name was Jesus. But that aside, B is still the only possible answer.)
19. G. Isn’t it amazing how God divinely inspired these two gospel writers to write His exact words, but he used their interests and professions to recall different aspects of Jesus’ birth. Matthew, a tax collector, records the genealogy of Jesus (used for taxation) and the “magi” – men of means from a foreign country. Luke, a physician, records the pregnancy and birth.
20. E. Joseph wants to “put her away” secretly and Mary left town to see her cousin. Matthew 1:19 and Luke 1:39, 56 The phrasing here is ambiguous. This question is really asking what happened first because A, B and C all happened eventually. D would be correct if you reversed the order. The correct order could also be C, B, A.
21. E. “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus… everyone into his own city… “ (Luke 2:1-5). This is a tricky question because Caesar Augustus never met Mary and Joseph and almost certainly never even heard of them. He “made” them return to Bethlehem only in the sense that he gave the order for the census, forcing Joseph and Mary to make the difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in the latter stages of Mary’s pregnancy.
12 July 2016
Who is Theresa May, the new British Prime Minister?
Theresa May is set to become the UK's Prime Minister in the evening of Wednesday 13 July 2016, taking over from David Cameron who announced his resignation on 24 June after the Brexit vote.
- Born in October 1956 in Eastbourne, Sussex
- Only daughter of an Anglican vicar, the Rev Hubert Brasier, and his wife Zaidee
- Member of the Church of England and regularly worships at church on Sundays
- Met Philip May at university, married in 1980
- Studied Geography at Oxford University
- Started her career at the Bank of England
- Characterised as a liberal conservative
Mrs May said that her Christian faith is a part of her: “It’s part of who I am and therefore how I approach things.” However, she does not openly display her faith, saying that “it’s good that we don’t flaunt such things in British politics.”
- Elected as Member of Parliament in 1997, went on to hold various positions in parliament
- Appointed Home Secretary in May 2010
- Major achievement in office: negotiating the deportation of Abu Qatada, a radical cleric, to Jordan after a decade-long battle
- · Supports same-sex marriage, declaring that “marriage should be for everyone”
- · Responsible for the production of some billboards telling illegal immigrants to “go home” (billboards were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority)
Position on Brexit:
- Said she would wait to see what deal David Cameron negotiated with the EU before deciding whether to back the ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ campaign
- Later chose to back the ‘Remain’ campaign, saying “we are more secure in the EU, and the issue of our place in the world… I believe we should stand tall and lead in Europe.”
Some views of Mrs May when she became Home Secretary:
- “She’ll be nobody’s stooge” – Anne Perkins of the Guardian
- The “rising star” of the coalition government – Cristina Odone of the Daily Telegraph
- Showed “managerial acumen” – Allegra Stratton, then with the Guardian
7 May 2016
Sadiq Khan, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, became London's first Muslim mayor on Saturday 7 May 2016, seeing off a Conservative challenger who attempted to link him to extremism and securing a much-needed win for his opposition Labour Party. Khan's victory makes him the first Muslim to head a major Western capital.
THE MUSLIM POPULATION of ENGLAND & WALES
The Muslim population of England and Wales is growing faster than the overall population, with a higher proportion of children and a lower ratio of elderly people, according to an analysis of official data.
Across England and Wales, with a combined population of nearly 59 million people, there are now an estimated 3,2 million Muslims with 1,6 million born overseas and they now make up 5.4% of the population of England and Wales.
In 1991 it stood at just under one million – 950,000 – representing 1.9% of the total population.
Historically, London always had a high concentration of Muslims. This took a sharp rise in the 1960s with large immigration from the commonwealth particularly from South Asia who are mostly Muslim. London became the home of many that arrived.
The current estimated population of London is 8.7 million
1.1 million declared themselves as Muslim
12.4% of the population of London
37.4% of the Muslim population of England and Wales live in London.
3 million or 36.7% of the city’s population are born in foreign countries
The Muslim population of London increased by 67% the past decade
London has 33 boroughs and has the River Thames running through the middle and then veering south towards Richmond and Kingston Upon Thames - 81% of the Muslims live north of the river.
The highest percentage of Muslims is East London’s Tower Hamlets, with 45.6% while neighbouring Newham has 40.8%. Outside the capital, Blackburn, in Lancashire, was highest with 29.1% of the city made up of followers of Islam. And in both Slough and Luton over a quarter of the population is now Muslim with Birmingham and Leicester coming in at over a fifth.
- One in three Muslims in England and Wales is under 15, compared with fewer than one in five overall.
- There are also fewer elderly Muslims, with 4% aged over 65, compared with 16% of the overall population.
- In 2011, 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales, compared with 1.55 million in 2001. Today there are an estimated 3,2 million Muslims
- Half the Muslims in England and Wales were born there and almost three-quarters (73%) identify themselves as British. Two-thirds of Muslims are ethnically Asian and 8% are white.
- Muslims make up 20% or more of the electorate in 26 constituencies and live in all local authority areas in England and Wales.
- Eight per cent of all school-age children (five to 15) are from Muslim households.
- Just 5.5% of Muslims have jobs defined as a “higher professional occupation”, compared with 7.6% of the overall population.
- Economic activity among Muslims is lower than the overall population as a whole. In 2011, 19.8% of Muslims were in full-time employment, compared with 34.9% of the overall population.
17 February 2016
Who Said It?
Even though the actions and the confessions of political and religious leaders often fail to match, it is nonetheless refreshing to hear public confessions that hint that there might be more to the speaker’s beliefs than generally meets the eye. Whether the statements made were genuine convictions, crowd-pleasing opinions or simply opportunistic canvasing, this is not for us to judge – each statement below contains an element of truth worth contemplating.
See if you can match the following leaders with the statements listed below then scroll down to see the answers:
1) Pope Francis
2) Hilary Clinton
3) Angela Merkel
4) Vladimir Putin
5) Benyamin Netanyahu
6) David Cameron
7) Barack Obama
A. "My mother gave me a cross after visiting Israel. My mother gave it to me to have a blessing there at the tomb of the Lord and now it is with me always… I cherish that cross and wear it on my body always."
B. "My faith tells me that I need not fear death. That the acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins... Faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear."
C. "I am a sinner. This the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner... I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ."
D. "I believe in God and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life. We as Christians should above all not be afraid of standing up for our beliefs ... [it is a] framework for my life that I consider very important."
E. “I promise we will support you [persecuted Christians] and we will act harshly against anyone who will harass you."
F. "My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbour as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do... I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly."
G. "What we need more of is more evangelism. More belief that we can get out there and actually change people’s lives and make a difference and improve both the spiritual, physical and moral state of our country.”
1 – C: It was Pope Francis who gave this summary of his spirituality: that he is a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.
2 – F: It was Hilary Clinton who said that love for God and love for neighbour is what Christ wants us to do.
3 – D: It was Angela Merkel who described her faith as the framework of her convictions, and called for people to stand up for what they believe.
4 – A: It is Vladimir Putin who always wears a cross on his body - a reminder of how he was baptised in secret as a baby.
5 – E: It was Benyamin Netanyahu whopledged support for Christians in the Middle East - a leader who understands the reality of being a minority in a hostile region.
6 – G: It was David Cameron who called for more evangelism, understanding the need to change people from the inside first.
7 – B: It was Barack Obama that shared this important truth: that the acceptance of Christ is the cure for fear.
14 December 2015
2015 - The Year of Displacement
2015 could rightly be described as the 'year of displacement'. But beyond the statistics are the human factor, the economic factor and the relief factor. The only point of view for any believer to hold is the view from the point of our Saviour: "This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1Timothy 2:3-4
Consider the following factors:
THE SYRIAN FACTOR
- At least 40% of Syria’s population, or 7.6 million people, have been internally displaced, the highest number in the world while 4,4 million registered Syrian refugees have been externally displaced as on 10 December 2015
- 13.5 million Syrians will be displaced in 2016 according to the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan, of whom 6 million are children.
- 807,000 Syrian asylum applications were received in Europe between Apr 2011 and Nov 2015 compared to 137,947 during 2014.
- Less than 20% of Syrian refugees seek safety in Europe
- 3.6 million Syrians registered by UNHCR are in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey
THE EUROPEAN FACTOR
- With three weeks to go before the end of the year, Germany has officially seen one million people (from all nations) arrive in the country as asylum seekers in the course of 2015.
- In November alone, more than 200,000 people were added to the list, smashing all forecasts.
- 218,394 were registered in Greece by October 2015 with an average of 6,604 refugees arriving each day in Macedonia.
THE HUMAN FACTOR
- 3,485 refugees have drowned or have gone missing the past year.
- The oldest refugee passing through Macedonia has been a 105-year-old woman from Afghanistan. The youngest refugee passing through Macedonia has been a 20-day-old infant.
- 51,2% of all refugees are children younger than 18 years of age. One out of every two.
- And 50.3% of all refugees are women with 49.7% being men
THE ECONOMIC FACTOR
- $4,319 billion is required during 2015 to immediately assist the refugees.
THE RELIEF FACTOR
Since the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syria crisis was first launched in December 2014. Achievements as at 30 September 2015 include the following
- 2,020,369 individuals received food assistance (cash, voucher or in-kind) with 57,898 individuals receiving food and agricultural livelihoods support.
- 522,803 targeted children (5-17) enrolled in formal education (primary or secondary) with 125 educational facilities constructed, renovated or rehabilitated.
- 2,373,037 primary health care consultations provided to target individuals.
- 90,361 households received unconditional, sector-specific or emergency cash assistance.
- 62,398 households outside of camps received assistance for shelter or shelter upgrades
- 25,343 households in camps received assistance for shelter or shelter upgrades.
- 11,569 individuals assisted to access wage employment opportunities and 181 community support projects implemented.
THE BIBLICAL FACTOR
Malachi 3:5 "So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.
7 October 2015
"From Antichrist to Brother in Christ": How US Protestant Pastors View the Pope
From Christianity Today:
More than half of evangelical pastors say Pope Francis is their brother in Christ. More than one-third say they value the pope's view on theology, and 3 in 10 say he has improved their view of the Catholic Church.
Those are among the findings of a new study of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors, released this week from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
Overall, the survey found that many Protestant pastors have taken a liking to Pope Francis. Nearly 4 in 10 say the pope, known for his humility and concern for the poor, has had a positive impact on their opinions of the Catholic Church. Almost two-thirds view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and “brother in Christ.”
However, half of Protestant pastors say they do not value Pope Francis’ opinion on matters of theology.
LifeWay asked 1,000 Protestant pastors in America about their views in a phone survey from September 8–21, 2015, shortly before the pontiff’s visit to the United States this week.
Pope Francis, who in March 2013 became the first non-European and first Jesuit priest to be named pope, has been outspoken on such issues as welcoming immigrants, shunning materialism, and protecting the environment.
For 43 percent of Protestant pastors, Pope Francis has not changed their views of the Catholic Church. However, half say the current pope has affected their opinions—and almost three times as many cite a positive impact (37%) as a negative one (14%).
“Our sample itself—Protestant pastors—is named after the Protestant Reformation, so they are particularly interesting to survey,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “And the survey says that this pope does, indeed, have a ‘Francis effect,’ even on a group of people named for protesting the very faith the pope leads.”
On whether Catholics can be “born-again Christians,” 90 percent of Protestant pastors and 92 percent of evangelical pastors agree. But they are less certain whether the pope is their brother in Christ: 63 percent agree Francis is a genuine Christian, 22 percent disagree, and 16 percent are unsure.
Evangelical pastors report more skepticism about Pope Francis than their mainline Protestant counterparts. While 80 percent of mainline Protestant pastors believe the pope is a true Christian, only 58 percent of evangelical pastors agree. About a quarter of evangelicals (23%) disagree, while one-fifth (19%) are not sure.
“The fact that some pastors don’t see the pope as their ‘brother in Christ’ seems strange to many outside Protestantism and evangelicalism, I imagine,” Stetzer said. “However, the forerunners of most Protestant pastors—from Luther, to Wesley, to Spurgeon, to many others—certainly did not see the pope as their ‘brother in Christ.’
“Within a few centuries, the pope has gone from anti-Christ to ‘brother in Christ’ for a lot of Protestants.”
In an editorial for CT this week, evangelical pastor Chris Castaldo argued that among Protestants and Catholics, disagreement over religious authority and salvation fades as piety trumps doctrine. (Pope Francis was also the subject of a 2014 CT cover story.)
Protestant pastors are divided on whether they value Pope Francis’ opinion on theological issues. More than 4 in 10 (42%) say they value the pope’s opinion, but 50 percent say they do not. Mainline pastors (57%) are more likely than evangelical pastors (36%) to say they value Pope Francis’ opinion.
Mainline pastors are also more likely to say Pope Francis has influenced their opinion of the Catholic Church, with 50 percent saying the impact has been positive and 9 percent saying it has been negative. In contrast, 30 percent of evangelical pastors say Pope Francis has boosted their opinion of Catholicism, while 15 percent say their opinion has declined.
Favorable views of Pope Francis are most pronounced among highly educated Protestant pastors and those in the Northeast, the survey finds.
Fifty-one percent of Protestant pastors in the Northeast say Pope Francis improves their opinion of the Catholic Church, compared to 38 percent in the Midwest, 34 percent in the South, and 31 percent in the West. Most Northeastern pastors (53%) also say they value the pope’s opinions on theological matters, a view shared by fewer than half of pastors in the Midwest (45%), South (39%), and West (38%).
More than two-thirds of Protestant pastors with a master’s or doctoral degree (69%) view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and brother in Christ, compared to 42 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or no college degree. Those with a master’s degree or higher are also significantly more likely to say they value Pope Francis’ opinions on theological matters (49%) and the pope improves their opinion of the Catholic Church (43%). Among those with less formal education, 22 percent value the pope’s theological opinion and 18 percent say he has a positive impact on their view of Catholicism.
CT frequently covers Pope Francis, including examining the recent release of his encyclical, how many of his fans disagree with him on global warming, and the theology behind his warnings on climate change.
Lisa Cannon Green is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.
The phone survey of Protestant pastors was conducted Sept. 8-21, 2015. The calling list was a stratified random sample drawn from a list of all Protestant churches in America. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister, or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
LifeWay Research - Facts & Trends - posted by Christianity Today - 9/25/2015
7 August 2015
Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women
Proverbs 31:8-9 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."
According to a 2013 global review of available data, violence against women has become a pandemic in diverse forms:
- 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate violence.
- Up to 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
- It is estimated that of all women killed in 2012, almost 50% were killed by intimate partners or family members.
- A study based on interviews with 42,000 women across the European Union revealed that only 14% of women reported their most serious incident of intimate partner violence to the police, and 13% reported their most serious incident of non-partner violence to the police.
- Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children (below 18 years of age). More than 33% —or some 250 million—were married before 15
- Poor girls are 2.5 times more likely to marry in childhood than those living in wealthiest contexts.
- Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives.
- More than 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.
- Trafficking ensnares millions of women and girls in modern-day slavery. Women and girls represent 55% of the estimated 20.9 million victims of forced labour worldwide and 98% of the estimated 4.5 million forced into sexual exploitation.
- Between 40 and 50% of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
- In the United States, 83% of girls in grades 8-11 (aged 12 to 16) have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
- Women in urban areas are twice as likely as men to experience violence, particularly in developing countries.
- A decade of cross-sectional research from African countries, including Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and more recently, India, has consistently found women who have experienced partner violence to be more likely to be infected with HIV.
"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1 Peter 3:7
Matthew Henry offered the following commentary on this verse:
"The husband's duty to the wife must be a dwelling according to knowledge; not according to lust, as brutes; nor according to passion, as devils; but according to knowledge, as wise and sober men, who know the word of God and their own duty.
The husband's duty to the wife must be giving honour to the wife - giving due respect to her, and maintaining her authority, protecting her person, supporting her credit, delighting in her conversation, affording her a handsome maintenance, and placing a due trust and confidence in her.
The reasons are, firstly because she is the weaker vessel by nature and constitution, and so ought to be defended: but then, secondly, the wife is, in other and higher respects, equal to her husband; they are heirs together of the grace of life, of all the blessings of this life and another, and therefore should live peaceably and quietly one with another, and, if they do not, their prayers one with another and one for another will be hindered, so that often “you will not pray at all, or, if you do, you will pray with a discomposed ruffled mind, and so without success.”
5 August 2015
On 14 July 2015, Iran and six world powers (America, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) agreed on a historic deal to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. "If implemented...", said US President Barack Obama, "it would resolve by diplomatic means one of the greatest threats to world security."
But the conflict in the Middle East is far deeper and wider than just the nuclear threat. Four Arab civil wars are currently being fought—in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen—with Iran, America and Saudi Arabia supporting a complex mix of warring parties.
The following charts show the complexity of the conflicts that stretch over religion, ideology, ethnicity and class. What is evident is that the Sunni-Shia rift has become more acute, with Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia playing leading roles on wither side of the divide.
SOURCE: The Economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/04/daily-chart-0
25 March 2015
With the nuclear negotiations between Iran and Western leaders continuing without a seeming resolution, and with fears of another full-blown 'Cold War' developing between Russia and the West, we take a look at which countries already have nuclear arsenals (or nuclear protection) and where their allegiences lie.
Countries in blue show Russia and the 'umbrella states' that share a security alliance with Russia and are formally under the protection of Russia's nuclear weapons (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan). Iran is being considered as a possible future member of this grouping.
Countries in brown show nuclear-armed NATO members and the states under the US / NATO 'umbrella'.
The five other nuclear powers in grey are Israel, Pakistan, India, China and North Korea.
SOURCE: International Law and Policy Institute, via Washington Post
6 March 2015
Early elections for the 20th Knesset (Israel’s parliament) will be held in Israel on 17 March 2015.
The election date was declared after a long period of internal power struggles within the ruling coalition. After less than two years out of a four-year term, Israeli lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a motion on Wednesday 3 December 2014 to dissolve the Knesset in a preliminary vote, paving the way for early elections in March 2015.
This election will impact the political and spiritual climate in the Middle East for 2015 and beyond, and could prove to be one of the most important elections of the year.
THE ELECTIONS IN CONTEXT:
1. Israel's voting method is to vote for a political party and not specific candidates.
2. Political parties in Israel can be categorised into five groups:
RIGHT: Likud (the current ruling party), the Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu
CENTER: Yesh Atid and Kulanu
LEFT: Zionist Camp (a union of Labour and Ha’tnua) and Meretz
ARABS: In a historic move, the Arab parties decided to unite in the coming election and to run together as one united party
ULTRA-ORTHODOX (“Haredi”): The Haredi parties also considered the idea of unity but eventually decided to stay as separate parties – United Torah Judaism party (UTJ) for the Ashkenazi Haredis, Shas party for the Sephardic Haredis and Yachad for the hard-right wing Haredis
3. In 2003, right-wing and religious parties won 69 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.
In 2006, the right-religious block sank to 50 seats.
In 2009, it bounced back and won 65 seats, returning current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power after 10 years.
In 2013, the right-religious parties dropped to the thinnest possible majority, 61 seats.
The last election was held on 22 January 2013 and the following parties obtained 5% or more of the votes:
|Party||Votes (%)||Seats||+/- (Up or Down)|
|Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu||23.34||31||-11|
|The Jewish Home||9.12||12||+9|
|United Torah Judaism||5.16||7||+2|
4. One quarter of Israeli citizens are not Jewish. Today, non-Jewish citizens of Israel constitute about 25% of the population, with 20% being Arab. Arab Israelis have equal voting rights and their own political parties, serve on the Israeli Knesset, Cabinet and Supreme Court and hold diplomatic positions.
5. The time between the last Knesset election and the upcoming one on March 17— just under two years and two months — is the second shortest in Israeli history. The only time the country went back to the polls more quickly was in 1961
SOME FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT ISRAEL:
Israel, officially the State of Israel, is situated in Western Asia, at the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the east and southwest, and Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is the country's most populous city and its designated capital, Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.
Total = 20,770 sq km (154 on the world rankings)
Israel is only 1/6 of 1% of the land mass of the Middle East.
Israel is roughly half the size of Lake Michigan.
The Sea of Galilee, at 695 ft. below sea level, is the lowest freshwater lake in the world.
The Dead Sea is the lowest surface point on earth, at about 1,373 feet below sea level.
Hebrew (official), Arabic (used officially for Arab minority), English (most commonly used foreign language)
Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, Other 3.9%
7,821,850 (99 on the world rankings)
Population growth rate = 1.46% (84 on the world rankings)
Israel’s population is half the size of Metropolitan New York City.
Israel has only 2% of the population of the Middle East.
Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees per capita in the world.
5. AGE STRUCTURE:
0-14 years: 27.1%
15-24 years: 15.7%
25-54 years: 37.8%
55-64 years: 8.8%
65 years and over: 10.5%
Median age: 29.9 years
6. LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH:
81.28 years (19 on the world rankings)
7. LITERACY: (age 15+ that can read and write)
Total population: 97.1%
8. GDP - PER CAPITA (PPP):
$36,200 (37 on the world rankings)
9. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:
5.8% (56 on the world rankings)
10. MILITARY EXPENDITURES:
5.69% of GDP (4 on the world rankings)
Israel has the world’s most impenetrable airline security.
Israel spends more money per capita on its own protection than any country in the world.
1 January 2015
2014 will go down as one of the most violent years in history as, month by month, global events unfolded in dramatic and traumatic ways. A Muslim caliphate was established with the Church in Iraq reaching numbers of near extinction. Thousand were killed indiscriminately by ISIS fighters who soon renamed themselves to IS (Islamic State). Christians, Kurds, Yazidis, Sunni's and Shia’s suffered executions under a newly, self-declared, Islamic leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Nigeria saw the killing and abduction of thousands of Christians. Syria continued with one of the biggest human tragedies of this generation with nearly half the population displaced and thousands killed. Iran continued its nuclear program and despite promises of using it “for peaceful purposes”, Israel warned the world that this could be the beginning of the end. Israel and Palestine entered into new conflicts and the Western world made a dramatic change of heart as Palestine emerged as victor in the media war. In the midst of all the wars and rumours of wars, the world had to deal with the Ebola virus that, by the end of 2014, claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people. The war between Russia and the Ukraine advanced to such an extent that borders changed and a passenger plane was shot down with many lives lost. Air disasters and countless earthquakes and hurricanes further contributed to a disastrous year in many ways.
The Church was further shocked by the martyrdom of believers in Afghanistan, Yemen and a number of other Muslim countries. Christians were forcefully extradited in Sudan, arrested in Bhutan, beaten in India, threatened in Egypt and persecuted in a number of other nations. The prophecies of Christ in Mark 13, where all the tragedies and disasters come together at one time, took shape during the past year.
And yet, in the midst of all these tragic events, it seems like most people still choose to be oblivious to a world in need.
On a radio station in South Africa, most listeners noted the crowning of Miss South Africa as Miss World, as the main event of 2014. Most telling however, is looking at what people searched for on the internet. This gives us a perfect snapshot of where people’s interest lies. And this can only lead us to one site:
“Google searches”, where trillions (not millions or billions but TRILLIONS) of searches were done in 2014
So here we go with a few peeks into our inner world, courtesy of Google itself:
Top 10 "What" questions from 2014:
1. What is ALS?
2. What is Ebola?
3. What is ISIS?
4. What is Bitcoin?
5. What is Asphyxia?
6. What is Gamergate?
7. What is WhatsApp?
8. What is MERS?
9. What is Hamas?
10. What is Airdrop?
Top trending searches in 2014 from around the world:
1. Robin Williams
2. World Cup
4. Malaysia Airlines
5. Flappy Bird
6. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Top 10 "life advice" searches from 2014:
1. How to Airdrop
2. How to Contour
3. How to Vote
4. How to Kiss
5. How to Craft
6. How to Colorblock
7. How to Wakeboard
8. How to Refurbish
9. How to Delegate
10. How to DIY
The top 10 Books searched for in 2014
1. Boy, Snow, Bird
2. Blood Will Out
3. Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism
4. Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
5. City of Heavenly Fire
6. Flash Boys
7. The Invention of Wings
8. All the Light We Cannot See
9. Words of Radiance
10. Yes Please
And finally, the top 10 people of 2014 we were interested in:
1. Jennifer Lawrence
2. Kim Kardashian
3. Tracy Morgan
4. Ray Rice
5. Tony Stewart
6. Iggy Azalea
7. Donald Sterling
8. Adrian Peterson
9. Rene Zellweger
10. Jared Leto
Welcome to our world.
Google also released the following video on GLOBAL SEARCHES 2014
Sources: "What did the world search for in 2014?", Google.com, read online.
7 October 2014
The recent advance of the Islamic State (IS) group in both Syria and Iraq has prompted dozens of countries worldwide to form a coalition to halt the progression of the group.
While some countries only provide humanitarian aid to those who are affected by IS, others have taken military steps. Since the beginning of August 2014, several countries have started combatting IS in an active role.
Each circle represents a certain type of aid from a country. The part where the circles overlap represent countries that provide both military and humanitarian aid. Several other countries have made donations for humanitarian aid as well, mostly through the UN. Included here are mostly countries who have also provided material goods.
To see the interactive infographic with details about each country's involvement, visit Aljazeera:
From a Christian perspective
As the global Church, let us not forget that while world leaders focus on battling the 'earthly powers of flesh and blood', we are called to get involved in the spiritual battle.
PRAY for wisdom for world leaders.
PRAY for all those suffering in Iraq and Syria.
PRAY for the truth about Islam to be made clear to all - to Muslims as well as to those who are called to witness to them.
PRAY for God to be evident in the lives of local believers and Christian aid workers offering physical support and emotional comfort.
PRAY for the local Church in Iraq to be a voice of reconciliation and peace.
And PRAY for Jesus Christ to be visible as a light in a dark place.
31 August 2014
What is the external view (positive or negative) of these countries’ influence on the rest of the world?
*These countries were among those where the survey was conducted, but their approval rating of themselves was NOT counted as part of the findings
** The white space in the graph reflects neutrality, or no opinion given
Between December 2012 and April 2013, a total of 26,299 citizens across 25 countries (see map of participating countries below) were interviewed about their perceptions of 16 key global countries as well as the EU – whether they saw these countries as being ‘mostly positive’ or ‘mostly negative’ in terms of their influence on the rest of the world.
Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
According to the poll, Germany ranked first as the most favourably rated country (overtaking Japan which had ranked first in the previous poll), while Iran ranked lowest. The US saw significant drops in approval ratings by respondents from ‘ally’ countries like the UK, France and Germany, as well as Egypt, but generally maintained a high approval rating.
It will be very interesting to compare the results of the next such survey conducted, taking into account the global events of the past year, which will have had a massive impact.
From a Christian perspective
While the survey polled a relatively small number of countries, the trends are very interesting from a mission perspective. A key factor that may determine whether cross-cultural missionaries are welcomed or opposed in the country where they are serving will be how their country of origin is viewed by the local population. If a missionary is viewed with suspicion or dislike simply due to their country of origin, that person will need to work harder to build relationships and to be accepted by the community, while missionaries from countries viewed in a positive light will sometimes find it easier to engage with the local community.
Below are key excerpts of the individual country analyses:
BRAZIL – Of the 25 countries surveyed, 19 held positive opinions of Brazil, while five were divided and only Germany was negative. Within South America, views of Brazil were predominantly positive, but among the BRICS nations, approval ratings were not as high.
CANADA – Favourable opinion of Canada grew in 2013, with the country ranking second out of all those surveyed. With the exception of Pakistan (where opinion is divided), all the countries surveyed displayed a more favourable than negative opinion of the country.
CHINA – Global views of China plummeted in the 2013 poll, mostly due to a growing negative perception among EU countries. China was rated most favourably by Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana, while the US and Japan showed the worst ratings of China. Among the BRIC nations, China enjoyed relatively positive ratings.
FRANCE – The only two countries holding negative opinions about France were Turkey and Mexico, with Pakistan again divided. The highest approval ratings (60+ %) were found in Canada, Chile, Poland, Ghana, Nigeria and South Korea.
GERMANY – Of the 25 countries polled about Germany, 23 were positive in their response. Pakistan was divided, while Greece was predominantly negative. France held the highest approval rating for Germany among the EU countries, and Ghana among the African countries, while Australia and South Korea were significantly high as well.
INDIA – India saw a massive drop in global approval ratings in 2013. The greatest levels of approval were found in Nigeria, Indonesia, Chile and Ghana, while the most antagonistic countries among those polled were Spain, Australia and Pakistan.
IRAN – Overall views of Iran were the worst of all the countries tested in 2013. Only Pakistan held a positive view of the country, with the ‘least opposed’ countries including Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria and China. The worst opinions were found in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Australia.
ISRAEL – Views about Israel were mostly unfavourable: of the 25 countries polled, 20 leaned negative, three leaned positive (the US, Ghana and Kenya) and two were divided. The US was the only Western country holding a positive view of Israel’s influence on the world, while unfavourable opinions in Egypt reached a record high in 2013 (96%).
JAPAN – There was quite a large drop in Japan’s approval ratings, shifting it from first position in the previous poll to fourth position in the 2013 poll. The most favourable views of Japan were held by Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil, while the most negative views were held by China and South Korea. Japan’s rating drop was mostly driven by declining perceptions in the EU and Japan’s neighbouring countries.
NORTH KOREA – While some opinions of North Korea were extreme in their negativity (80+ % in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, South Korea and Japan), some positive opinion was found in Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria and China. Feelings in Russia – considered to be an ‘ally’ of North Korea – cooled in 2013.
PAKISTAN – Pakistan was the second-worst rated country after Iran, with only Indonesia showing a more positive than negative opinion of their global influence. The worst views of Pakistan were held by the US, Canada, France, Spain, Germany and Australia, while Kenya, Egypt and China were the least opposed after Indonesia.
RUSSIA – General opinion of Russia’s influence declined in 2013. Only eight of the countries surveyed expressed a positive view of Russia, with 15 negative and two divided. The greatest support for the country was found in Ghana, Nigeria, China and Greece, while the most negative opinions were held by France, Germany, the US and the UK.
SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa was one of the countries that experienced the greatest deterioration in global opinion in 2013. Of the 25 countries surveyed, only nine countries were predominantly positive, with 11 negative and five divided. The most favourable views were held by the other African countries polled (Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya), while the worst opinions were held by Australia, Turkey, Germany and Canada.
SOUTH KOREA – Views of South Korea were relatively divided, with only Germany holding a significantly negative opinion. The greatest approval was found in Indonesia, Ghana, Australia, China and Nigeria.
THE UNITED KINGDOM - Views of the UK improved significantly in 2013, attributed in part to the country’s hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games. Of the 25 countries surveyed, 22 viewed the UK in a positive light – only Greece and Turkey held more negative views of the country, while opinion in Pakistan was divided.
THE UNITED STATES – Positive views of the US also declined in this 2013 poll: of the 25 countries surveyed, 13 countries held positive views, seven held negative views, and five were divided. The most positive opinion was once again found in Ghana, while the least favourable opinions were found in Russia, Egypt, China, Turkey and Pakistan. Of the European countries surveyed, Poland was the most positive about the US.
8 July 2014
1 June 2014
“Pope Francis paid a whirlwind visit to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank during May. The trip was designed in part to offer solace and support to the DWINDLING CHRISTIAN populations in the Middle East” (Washington Post)
Do we know what the Church looks like in the Middle East and what nations are foremost in losing Christians? Do we care that the media refers to the Church in the Middle East as a DWINDLING CHURCH? What is the truth and what is the state of the Church in the Middle East?
6 May 2014
Strategic mission response starts with information. How much did you know? How are you engaged?
If you want to increase the text size, use the zoom function on your browser.
Orginal source: http://100people.org/statistics_100stats.php?section=statistics
21 April 2014
The Islamic Revolution in Iran
The world witnessed the rise of a “new” cultural, political and spiritual role player that is likely to dominate world events for the foreseeable future: Islam.
The Islamic Revolution saw the overthrow of the Iranian dynasty under Shah Reza and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini The revolution replaced a Western-oriented autocratic monarchy with a theocracy based on 'guardianship' of the Islamic Jurists. Its outcome – an Islamic republic "under the guidance of a religious scholar."
The spiritual world would never be the same again as Islam entered the global scene on a new level.
The Tiananmen Square protests
In the early hours of the morning on June 4th 1989, the Chinese military began a brutal crackdown on the protest movement that had seen up to 100,000 people camped out in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square for more than a month.
The protests were mainly organised by 'intellectuals' and are seen by many as the reason for the revival that swept through China for decades. Many graduates turned to Christ after being disillusioned by the communist system.
This event also paved the way for another event that took place in China 19 years later that might provide a glimpse of Mark 13:10.
The fall of the Iron Curtain
After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.
The fall of the Berlin wall widely signaled the fall of communism as well. A system that proudly declared 'there is no God' came to a sudden stop.
This paved the way for another spiritual role player to fill the vacuum and within two weeks, the spiritual climate experienced a drmatic make-over.
Osama Bin Ladin becomes the head of Al-Qaeda
Within a matter of two weeks after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the spiritual dynamics of the word changed.
On 24 November 1989. a land mine killed Sheik Abdullah Azzam, a prominent Jihad advocate. His deputy, Osama bin Laden, took over the role of 'first among the jihadis'. Bin Ladin was also the founder of Al Qaeda, which is operative in more than 60 contries world-wide.
Osama Bin Ladin was killed on May 2, 2011 at the age of 54 and was succeeded by Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri.
Four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists. Two of those planes crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York, while a third plane crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth plane was targeted at Washington D.C. but crashed into a field after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers. In total, almost 3,000 people died in the attacks, including the 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes.
The world would never be the same again as Islam shifted its position from a religion 'out there' to a movement 'on our our doorstep'.
Facebook is founded
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students.
In September 2012, eight years later, Facebook had over one billion active users, adding over half a petabyte of data every 24 hours, amounting to about 180 petabytes per year.
It was Facebook that mobilised the masses in Tunisia to start the Arab Spring that changed the face of Islam forever. It was also Facebook that drew more than 2 million people together on Tahrir Square and changed the face of Egypt forever.
The "Credit Crunch"
The credit crunch set in motion devastating effects on all walks of life, including those of missionaries. Many missionaries lost their support and had to return home.
With most missionaries (and mission support) sent from the USA, the credit crunch had a devastating effect on Western missions. This development once again confirmed the necessity of supporting local missionaries in unreached and third-world countries.
Beijing Olympic Games
China opened its doors to the outside world and will never be able to shut them again. The Olympic Games in Beijing signaled a new era for the biggest country in the world that has experienced the longest and biggest Church revival for the past four decades. The political, financial and spiritual consequences are vast.
At the same time, the Back to Jerusalem missions initiative is picking up momemntum and presents the Church with the biggest opportunity of this generation.
Mr Obama becomes the 44th president of the USA
The election of Mr Obama, an African American with a Muslim heritage, created new perceptions of the biggest Christian nation in the world, especially within the Muslim world.
Mr Obama is viewed as a friend by moderate Muslims and a traitor by radical Muslims. Christians in the Muslim world feel betrayed as little is done do relieve persecution. These new perceptions have dramatic effects, both positve and negative, on global missions.
Mr Obama was re-elected as president in November 2012.
The Arab Spring
26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the streets of Tunisia in protest against an unjust system and unemployment.
Through Facebook, people were motivated to join in his protest and within days, a revolution swept across the whole Arab world. His self-emulation made him a martyr and sent a strong message to all Arab tyrants, and within months, leaders like Ghadaffi, Mubarak and Bashir were removed from power.
The Arab Spring has changed the world irreversibly.
Egypt cries out to God
On the 11th of the 11th, 2011, thousands of Christians came together in the 'Church in the Cave' on the garbage dump in Cairo to cry out to God for His intervention and mercy.
The gathering followed the killing of a number of Coptic believers in Alexandria and saw believers of all denominations meet together.
Dramatic events unfolded in Egypt in the months and years that followed, and God surely heard their cries.
Mr Morsi is removed from power after his election to presidency in 2012
The Muslim Brotherhood’s brief reign in Egypt comes to a dramatic end with the mass protests of June 2013. This signified one of the biggest crossroads Islam has encountered in its history, with 'fundamentalist' Islam being rejected by 'moderate' Muslims.
This is probably one of the greatest miracles of this century and creates major opportunities for the Church to reach out to a disilusioned population.
Chemical attacks in Syria take the world to the brink of WWIII
Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011. On 21 August 2013, more than 300 people died and thousands were injured when rockets containing the chemical agent Sarin struck several opposition-controlled or disputed areas of the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.
The US and other Western countries blamed the Syrian government for the attacks, while Syria blamed opposition forces. In response to the Ghouta attacks, a coalition of countries led by the US and France (who support the rebels) threatened air strikes on Syria. Russia, a key ally of Syria, along with China, had earlier blocked efforts to secure UN Security Council approval for military intervention. Western and Eastern powers threatened one another and a wider war loomed on te horizon.
Nuclear deal with the West
For at least six months, Iran agreed to cease enrichment of uranium beyond 5%, to not install new centrifuges in its nuclear facilities, and to keep some of its existing centrifuges inactive. In return, the West promised to lift sanctions.
In a CNN interview, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran “will not accept any limitations” on its “nuclear technology”, and that the Iranians will “not under any circumstances” agree to destroy any uranium enrichment centrifuges.
Possible strike on Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the Israeli army to prepare for a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at a cost of at least $2.89 billion this year, despite the talks between Iran and the West.
Any such strike will have vast repercussions, on a regional and global level.
17 March 2014
Every nation leads the world in something. Sometimes good things, sometimes not so good things and sometimes funny things BUT mostly interesting things.
This map shows what each country does best compared to all other countries. Data source comes from www.thedoghousediaries.com/maplesyrup
13 JANUARY 2014
How did your perceptions influence your predictions?
1 – B: Pope Francis was previously a nightclub bouncer
Believe it or not, it is Pope Francis and not Mr Putin (as many probably guessed), who was briefly a nightclub bouncer, at the age of 21. According to TIME Magazine (23 December 2013, page 38), Pope Francis, then known as Jorge Bergoglio, also lost most of his right lung to an infection as a young man.
2 – D: Vladimir Putin always wears a cross on his body
Once again, it might have been assumed that this fact referred to Pope Francis. However, it is Mr Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, who always wears a cross on his body. His mother gave it to him at the Tomb of Jesus during a visit to Israel and he decided to keep it with him at all times. Listen to him describe this event in his own words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3d_yxJhmjk
Edward Snowdon was the high school dropout who ended up as one of the newsmakers of 2013. According to TIME Magazine (23 December 2013), Edward Snowden found his identity in the Internet after dropping out of high school and getting a GED.
4 – H: Angela Merkel is a qualified physical chemist
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor and teacher who trained initially as a physical chemist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel).
5 – A: Bashar Assad is a qualified ophthalmologist
Like most Muslim leaders, Syrian president Bashar Assad had his training in the West, studying in England as an ophthalmologist. It truly is a shame that someone who was trained as a doctor dealing with illnesses of eyes seems blind to the hardship he is causing to millions of people in his own nation.
6 – E: Barack Obama was once a member of the "choom gang" who occasionally smoked marijuana
The president of the USA, Barack Obama, used alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who he was out of his mind". Obama was a member of the "choom gang", a self-named group of friends who spent time together and occasionally smoked marijuana. (Jonathan Karil, ABC News, 25 May 2012)
7 – G: David Cameron was a member of an exclusive drinking society known for trashing pubs, dorms and restaurants
UK Prime Minister David Cameron was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club,” an Oxford University exclusive drinking society known for trashing pubs, dorms and restaurants. “We all do stupid things when we are young and we should learn the lessons,” Cameron told the BBC in 2011 in response to a question about his Bullingdon days.
8 – C: Hassan Rouhani's father has been in prison more than 20 times
Hassan Rouhani, the seventh president of Iran, is the son of Haj Asadollah Fereydoun, a spice shop owner in Sorkheh. Haj Asadollah Fereydoun is reported to have been politically active against the Shah (king) of Iran, arrested first in 1962, and then more than twenty times before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hassan_Rouhani)
31 OCTOBER 2013
In his new book FUTURECAST: What Today’s Trends Mean for Tomorrow’s World, George Barna looks at how our behaviours, attitudes and beliefs are shaping our future. Through extensive research, Barna explains why 'futurecasting' matters and that the ultimate goal is not to simply inform but to assist the Church to make strategic decisions. Various issues such as family life, values, media, technology and institutional faith are discussed. The research is done in America but reflects some significant trends that would probably be true for most of Western society.
Here are a few of Barna's findings:
To better understand the weight of media impact on our lives, consider the volume of content we consume per person each year.
- On average, we ingest about 3,500 hours worth of media per year (an average of 67 hours per week).
- Research finds that our favourite sources of media content are television (about 1,600 hours annually) and radio (750 hours annually), followed by listening to music (200 hours) and surfing the internet (200 hours and increasing rapidly).
- The internet is now considered the “most essential” medium in our society, selected by 42% of adults. Only 5% chose newspapers.
- 48% of all Americans age twelve or older have a profile on one or more social networks - this is double the percentage of two years earlier.
- Texting is becoming a major role player in information sharing. Americans send more than 75 billion text messages every month.
- More than half a million new book titles are published every year
- Of the 1.2 million books in print, one million sold fewer than a 100 copies
- Six out of ten adults did not read a single book during the past year
- If offered the opportunity of being richer, thinner, smarter or younger, responses were as follows: 43% for richer, 21% for thinner, 14 % for smarter and 12% for younger
- Do people trust the news? Six out of ten do not trust the media for full, accurate and fair reporing.
Anyone can obtain information, but it takes time, effort and skill to gather the right information and to explain it in a proper, understandable and meaningful fashion. INcontext Ministries has dedicated staff who serve the mission community by doing this. We are committed to accurate, verified and valuable information.
Consider the following points in relation to your current mission programmes:
- God cannot lead you on the basis of information that you do not have. Information is critical for your project planning and decision making.
- Information for its own sake is worthless - valuable information is that which can be converted into meaningful action.
- Not all information is created equal: some is accurate and adds value, while some is unreliable and potentially harmful.
- We cannot make good decisions if we have bad information. This is critical for lasting involvement.
- More information is not the same as useful information.
- The earlier in the decision-making process we have good information, the wider our range of options for productive programmes.
- Good information improperly or inaccurately interpreted leaves us worse off than if we had no information.
- Information without context is usually misleading.
- Great strategy is built on current and accurate information, placed in a proper context, interpreted within that context, and resulting in specific and targeted behaviour.
This is where INcontext Ministries aims to serve.
18 SEPTEMBER 2013
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, based at Gordon Conwell Seminary, published (in June 2013) an excellent report regarding Christianity in its global context. The full report can be found online at www.globalchristianity.org/globalcontext
From this report, Disciple All Nations identified the top 20 countries that have the highest percentage Christianity Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR). They have also calculated the number of years for the number of Christians to double, based on the Average Annual Growth Rate. Their report can be found here: http://discipleallnations.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/the-top-20-countries-where-christianity-is-growing-the-fastest/
Here is the summary of their findings: