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Are We Overlooking People and Areas in Need of Gospel Impact and Resources?

We now have numerous unprioritized areas that God calls us towards.


We live in an age where there are countless ways to reach people through technology, financial support, and missions work. It is common to hear about certain places and people groups that are in these resources and efforts, such as third-world nations or areas under restrictive governmental regimes.


However, certain ethnolinguistic people groups continue to be unreached, and at the same time, overlooked.


For example, we can point to Quebecois in Canada and the thousands of South Asian Indians in the western suburbs of Chicago. There are also geographical areas that are unacknowledged. Perhaps the most notable are rural areas in the United States and around the world.


Paul strategically prioritized urban centers during his missionary journeys. Think of Philippi, Ephesus, Colossae, and Thessalonica: they were all places where large numbers of people lived, worked, and worshipped.


Paul could reach the most people with the gospel by preaching and planting the gospel in these cities. Acts actually tells us “all Asia” was reached from Paul’s three years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). While today’s cities are still vitally strategic and important, our world is different than Paul’s.


We now have numerous unprioritized areas that God calls us towards.


When thinking about these forgotten areas, as pastors in particular and Christians in general, we begin to ask questions about what we should do to improve the church’s reach: Do we travel to these places and evangelize? Do we plant churches there? Do we send money? How do we accomplish all of these things?


I believe that there are two main answers to the questions concerning outreach to overlooked peoples.


First, one of the best ways to improve the church’s ...

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CFamily

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Is It Faithful to Flee an Epidemic? What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus

The German reformer’s pastoral reflection on the plague can guide both medical students like me and Christians in China—and everywhere the Wuhan virus has spread.


From its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the current coronavirus outbreak is stoking fear and disrupting travel and business across the globe. More than 150 people have died from the virus in China alone, and more than 8,000 are infected across 20 countries—exceeding the SARS epidemic in 2003.


Citizens in Wuhan, a major central city comparable to Chicago, are under lockdown by the government and public activities have come to a standstill, including annual celebrations for Chinese New Year (which began on January 25). Chinese Christians, in Wuhan and China at large, have faced difficult decisions about whether to join the millions of Chinese who return home to visit family (as is customary during the lunar holiday season), to flee from the mainland, or even to gather for regular Sunday services.


But are followers of Jesus right to flee an epidemic when people are suffering and dying?


In the 16th century, German Christians asked theologian Martin Luther for a response to this very question.


In 1527, less than 200 years after the Black Death killed about half the population of Europe, the plague re-emerged in Luther’s own town of Wittenberg and neighboring cities. In his letter “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” the famous reformer weighs the responsibilities of ordinary citizens during contagion. His advice serves as a practical guide for Christians confronting infectious disease outbreaks today.


First, Luther argued that anyone who stands in a relationship of service to another has a vocational commitment not to flee. Those in ministry, he wrote, “must remain steadfast before the peril of death.” The sick and dying need a good shepherd who will strengthen and comfort them and administer ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/alUnCWotMjo/martin-luther-coronavirus-wuhan-chinese-new-year-christians.html
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https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/world/asia/coronavirus-china.html
https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-in-wuhan-prepare-to-flee-coronavirusor-weather-outbreak-in-isolated-city-11580149927
http://www.chinachristiandaily.com/news/category/2020-01-27/coronavirus-outbreak-seriously-affects-sunday-services--wuhan-church-encourages-believers-to-worship-at-home_8806
https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/1883968
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/martin-luther-coronavirus-wuhan-chinese-new-year-christians.html
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FBI Accuses Filipino Church of Human Trafficking, Sham Marriages for Fake Charity

Prosecutors say Kingdom of Jesus Christ’s “miracle workers” were trafficking victims. Philippines-based church says fundraising efforts for Children’s Joy Foundation were legitimate.


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine religious group on Thursday denied allegations by American law enforcement agents that it was involved in a scheme to trick followers into becoming fundraisers and arrange sham marriages to keep them in the US.


FBI agents raided the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church in Los Angeles on Wednesday in a human trafficking investigation that led to the arrests of three church leaders.


A spokesman for Apollo Quiboloy, the church founder and leader, said former members who had been disciplined for wrongdoing retaliated by breaking off from his church and fabricating information they fed to the FBI in a “grand conspiracy of lies.”


“Their aim, therefore, is to exact revenge, extortion commingled with a brazen but shameless desire to put [Quiboloy] and the [church] as a whole into a quagmire of shame, blatant humiliation, and defeat through trumped-up charges,” lawyer Israelito Torreon said in a statement issued to reporters in southern Philippines’ Davao city.


The church leader ordered an internal audit last year that prompted a trusted officer and other members to leave the group and struck an alliance with “forces” jealous of Quiboloy's rise, Torreon said without elaborating.


“We will face and disprove as utter lies the charges filed against the administrators” of the church in the US, he said.


Workers who managed to escape from the church told the FBI they had been sent across the US soliciting donations for the church’s charity and were beaten and psychologically abused if they didn’t make quotas, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges.


The immigrants essentially became full-time workers, sometimes referred ...

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[Cfamily]Mary the Priest and Phil the Groundhog Beat Out Super Bowl Hoopla
« Reply #1547 on: February 04, 2020, 12:00:11 AM »
Mary the Priest and Phil the Groundhog Beat Out Super Bowl Hoopla

The real reason February 2 is an occasion for feasting.


Groundhog Day enthusiasts will tell you that for decades there has only been one groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, even though groundhogs only live for six years or so. In a similar way, it can feel like there’s always a single distraction in American culture; we just keep switching out the bodies.


Our fresh amusements or outrages are periodically lifted up by the next man with a top hat, making it especially appropriate that the groundhog celebration coincides this year with the pageantry of Super Bowl Sunday. What makes February 2 a strikingly sad illustration of our national propensities is the splendor of what it conceals.


But don’t take my word for it; take Pope Pius IX’s. The definer of papal infallibility and author of the 1864 Syllabus of Errors claimed the Virgin Mary was called “Virgin Priest by the Fathers of the Church.”


The 20th-century priest René Laurentin decided to fact-check this pontifical declaration, just as puzzled readers might do today. Two dissertations later, Laurentin learned the Pope was right—the priesthood of Mary saturates the Christian tradition, and even has biblical basis. Mary is connected, through her kinswoman Elizabeth, to a priestly lineage even higher than Elizabeth’s husband, the priest Zechariah (Luke 1:5, 36). Hence church authorities like Theodore the Studite could say regarding Mary, “Hail daughter, young sacrificial priest,” and Tarasios the Patriarch of Constantinople could call her “the greatest among the high priests.”


Such associations are especially clear in art history, where Mary regularly sports vestments reserved for the clergy. This appears even in mainstream illustrations for the Feast of the Presentation ...

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/groundhog-day-feast-of-presentation-mary-priest-super-bowl.html
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[Cfamily]One-on-One with Diane Strack on She Loves Out Loud
« Reply #1548 on: February 05, 2020, 12:00:10 AM »
One-on-One with Diane Strack on She Loves Out Loud

I believe that hope and healing come through prayer and genuine, healthy relationships—women coming together in sisterhood, helping one another to find peace and a God-confident future.


Ed: Tell me about this movement.


Diane: She Loves Out Loud is a prayer movement led by and for women with the mission of inspiring women across America with hope for their lives. I believe that hope and healing come through prayer and genuine, healthy relationships—women coming together in sisterhood, helping one another to find peace and a God-confident future. We have created She Loves Out Loud to provide the opportunity for women around the country to love and support one another.


Ed: Is there also a specific prayer event?


Diane: Yes. On February 15 we will host a first-of-its-kind national livestream prayer event. The day is meant to encourage “out loud” sisterhood through unconditional love and earnest prayer regardless of color or creed.


Beginning at 11am CST, the event will broadcast seven streams of stories, worship, and ministry of prayer until 3 pm CST. Every woman is invited to attend or host a gathering for the interactive livestream produced on the set of the Life Today studio in Dallas to thousands of churches, pregnancy centers, and small-group gatherings from coast to coast.


Ed: What was the impetus for She Loves Out Loud?


Diane: It was started in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March, when I became burdened for so many women trapped in their anger and bitterness. I was reminded of my late mentor, Vonette Bright, and her words to me to, “Gather the women to pray. They are the only hope for our nation.”


I remembered her encouragement as I watched the angry women parade. I cried over the stories of abuse, and my heart broke at the wall of pain and anger that held back their hope. No one spoke of a way to find peace, and I kept thinking that this cannot be the last word for the women ...

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http://www.shelovesoutloud.org
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/january/one-on-one-with-diane-strack-on-she-loves-out-loud.html
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[Cfamily]Christianity’s Influence on World History Is Real but Easily Overstated
« Reply #1549 on: February 06, 2020, 12:00:15 AM »
Christianity’s Influence on World History Is Real but Easily Overstated

Did the teachings of Jesus launch a sweeping revolution in human consciousness? Maybe, but we need better evidence.


Tom Holland’s Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World is a substantial work that makes a straightforward case. In Holland’s view, the teachings of Jesus constituted an ethical revolution that would gradually transform human consciousness, to the extent that we today find it hard to imagine credible alternative systems. When we see Christians, past or present, behaving in ways we may find abominable, in matters such as war, slavery, colonialism, or patriarchy, our disgusted attitudes must themselves be understood as products of that sweeping revolution. Without the existence of Christianity, it would not occur to us to abhor such things, whoever the perpetrators might be.


Beyond any single policy or attitude, Christianity mattered because it taught respect (or even veneration) for the poor and the oppressed. That implied the historically unprecedented exaltation of humility, forgiveness, and love. Moreover, the faith created the practical urge to offer aid and relief, to assist the poor, and (among other things) to reject infanticide. Christianity is the essential foundation of the liberal West, of democracy, and of notions of human rights. As the book’s jacket copy proclaims, “Concepts such as secularism, liberalism, science, and homosexuality are deeply rooted in a Christian seedbed. From Babylon to the Beatles, Saint Michael to #MeToo, Dominion tells the story of how Christianity transformed the world.”


Christian, or Western?


These are bold claims, to which I will certainly offer some caveats. What is not debatable is the very high quality of the book as a whole, and its appeal to anyone interested in Christian history. Rather than offering a straightforward narrative, Holland ...

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/tom-holland-dominion-christian-revolution.html
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[Cfamily]Christian Nonprofits Reeling from Trump Cuts to Foreign Aid
« Reply #1550 on: February 07, 2020, 12:00:08 AM »
Christian Nonprofits Reeling from Trump Cuts to Foreign Aid

Work in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador was starting to bring change, agencies say.


Christian ministries in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador know they are in for a tough year. The US government has drastically cut aid to the three Central American countries in response to the large number of refugees who have fled north to seek asylum in America. Some of the more than $500 million of US taxpayer money was going to Christian nonprofits working on economic development, anti-corruption efforts, and helping children in poverty in the three countries. Those ministries will have to lay people off, reduce services, and scramble to find other funds.


“The Trump administration shot itself in the foot with these cuts,” said Chet Thomas, director of Proyecto Aldea Global in Honduras, which has been forced to stop a job training program that gave teenagers alternatives to working for criminal gangs. “These projects are designed to … reduce the number of people migrating to the US.”


US foreign aid flows through various channels. In many cases, it ends up funding nongovernmental organizations, including Christian relief organizations in the area of Central American known as the Northern Triangle. Many of these address the conditions that cause people to flee their homes and seek asylum, leading to a crisis at the US border. Some ministries work directly with host governments to train national staff and increase the effectiveness of state institutions. Others focus more on community development, often building connections with local churches that don’t trust their government and don’t have many of their own resources.


Justifying the cuts, the State Department appeared to downplay the role of nonprofit groups in addressing migration. “We expect the governments of El Salvador, ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/XZVuLZXQWQY/trump-foreign-aid-cuts-impact-ministry-northern-triangle.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/115142.jpg?w=460
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-central-america-aid-cuts-analysis/central-americas-poorest-of-the-poor-hit-hard-by-us-aid-cuts-charities-idUSKBN1WI2HA
https://www.paghonduras.org/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/february/trump-foreign-aid-cuts-impact-ministry-northern-triangle.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=XZVuLZXQWQY:ptcOvjJoRAs:yIl2AUoC8zA
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=XZVuLZXQWQY:ptcOvjJoRAs:V_sGLiPBpWU
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=XZVuLZXQWQY:ptcOvjJoRAs:bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
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[Cfamily]Best of CT: Jesus’ Parables
« Reply #1551 on: February 08, 2020, 12:00:10 AM »
Best of CT: Jesus’ Parables

Highlights from our archives.


Jesus often used stories to teach. In fact, he used them so much so that the disciples directly asked him, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matt. 13:10). CT has featured a wide variety of articles that examine and reflect upon the meaning of Jesus’ compelling and convicting stories. Here are some of our best articles on the parables of Jesus.



Jesus’ Use of Parables


In these articles, Virginia Stem Owens discusses Jesus’ intentional use of surprising teaching techniques, and William Childs Robinson explores how the parables weave together to point listeners and readers to Jesus himself.






The Prodigal Son


The story of the Prodigal Son is one of Jesus’ most well-known parables, and it has been discussed extensively in the pages of CT. It is the third in Jesus’ parable trilogy of lost things: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Here are some of our best offerings on the prodigal: our 1998 cover story about the “pursuing” father, Miroslav Volf’s candid discussion of how the parable relates to forgiveness, and Carolyn Arends’s brief reflection on the older brother.









The Good Samaritan


The Good Samaritan and its accompanying conversation about loving one’s neighbor is central to our understanding of the gospel and Christian virtue. Here, L. Nelson Bell uses the Good Samaritan (as well as the parable of the sheep and the goats) to discuss how faith is evidenced in loving action. In addition, John Piper examines a common misunderstanding of Jesus’ listeners to explore a contemporary misunderstanding of this parable: an overemphasis ...

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Source: Best of CT: Jesus’ Parables

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/gMkSuIgfbEs/best-of-ct-jesus-parables.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/115277.jpg?w=460
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/best-of-ct-jesus-parables.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=gMkSuIgfbEs:UMUhmQGoBmI:yIl2AUoC8zA
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=gMkSuIgfbEs:UMUhmQGoBmI:bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/gMkSuIgfbEs
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