November 2006


November 27 (Compass Direct News) – In a case that has drawn crowds of religious fanatics, a Pakistani court sentenced two Christian men to 10 years in prison on Saturday (November 25) for committing “blasphemy” against the Quran.After postponing the verdict for four consecutive days, Judge Muhammad Islam of Faisalabad’s Anti-Terrorism Court delivered the prison sentence and a 25,000 rupee (US$414) fine in a closed hearing.

The high profile case had aroused controversy in Faisalabad when it was rumored that James Masih, 65, and his neighbor, Buta Masih, 70, had burned pages of the Quran on October 8 in the street near their homes in Faisalabad’s Munir Park district.

Defense lawyer Khalil Tahir Sindhu told Compass that scores of Muslim fanatics had gathered outside the courthouse during each hearing, prompting Judge Islam to stall the verdict.

Stressing that his clients were innocent, Sindhu said that in any event the 10-year sentence was an “illegal” punishment for blasphemy against the Quran.

Desecration of Islam’s holy book warrants life imprisonment, according to article 295 B of the Pakistan Penal Code under which the elderly men were tried.

“This conviction was not based on law,” Sindhu commented. “There are only two options: 25 years [life imprisonment] or acquittal. Actually [the judge] wanted to release them, but he was really under pressure.”

Sindhu said he would file an appeal in Lahore’s regional high court within three days. He told Compass that, based on his cross-examination of the witnesses, he believed his clients would soon win their appeal.

“All the witnesses already had enmity with [James and Buta Masih] over a small piece of land,” Sindhu commented. “And they were all friends of the complainant, Ashraf Mubarak.”

None of James and Buta Masih’s Muslim neighbors testified that they had seen the alleged Quran burning.

Sindhu had argued that emotional anguish caused by rumors of the Quran desecration had clouded the witnesses’ judgment. Muhammad Ashraf, the investigation officer in the case, told the court that he had been enraged when he heard that the suspects had burned a Quran.

“If one party is already in emotional agony, it means that he is not impartial,” Sindhu commented.

Immediately following last week’s verdict, James and Buta Masih were transferred to Faisalabad’s Central Jail, where they are being held in isolation.

Mob Attack

In the wake of the October 8 rumors that James and Buta had burned pages of the Quran, a mob of 500 Muslims attempted to kill the Christians.

Christian families from the area fled after police arrested the two men and held off a crowd of Muslims who stayed outside the police station through the night.

Faisalabad Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts and lawyer Sindhu quickly worked to defuse the blasphemy rumors, calling a press conference and meeting with local Muslim clerics.

Though their efforts helped prevent wide-scale violence from erupting against Faisalabad’s Christian community, they were unable to secure the elderly Christians’ release from prison.

“No Christian has yet been acquitted from a lower court,” Sindhu said, referring specifically to blasphemy cases in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest city. “But many Muslims have been [acquitted].”

Lower courts have often ruled Pakistani Christians guilty of “blasphemy,” only to have their decision overturned during appeal.

Ranjha Masih, another Christian “blasphemy” prisoner accused of insulting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was released from Faisalabad Central Jail on November 15 after his life sentence was overturned by the Lahore High Court. Imprisoned since 1998, he had waited three years for his appeal to be heard.

Source

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Here is an item to be praying over:

Middle East (MNN) — As tensions continue to mount between Muslims and Christians around the world, one ministry is excited about the ministry opportunities that are opening in the Muslim world.

Book of Hope International’s Rob Hoskins says recently the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recently prayed following his speech at the United Nations. “It sounds like really beautiful words, but what he’s really praying for is the second coming of the Mahdi, which has to be preceded by the annihilation of Christianity. So, what he’s really praying for is for Christianity to be wiped out on the face of the earth. So, we’re seeing this tremendous militancy against Christianity, against missionaries, against the spread of the Gospel.”

According to Hoskins, many Christians feel powerless to doing anything in situations like these. “The greatest thing that we can do,” says Hoskins, “is to plant the truth of God’s Word in the hearts of these hungry and searching children and youth who are searching for answers. They’re just kids that are facing the same obstacles that our kids are.”

That’s exactly what Book of Hope is doing. Hoskins says they’re on their way to distributing 5 million Books of Hope into the Muslim world today. “This isn’t with our normal tactics of going into schools because that’s not permissible. But, what we’re doing is we’re using a relational based model where we’re mobilizing existing believers in Muslim countries to reach out to children and youth with God’s Word.”

Hoskins says the open doors have been greater than they’ve ever been. “Although we hear all these stories about how Islam is encroaching, what we’re really seeing happen is we’re seeing spiritual breakthroughs and Jesus being presented to more Muslim children and youth than in the history of mankind.”

Book of Hope is working in more than 14 Muslim nations today and they’re wanting to expand. Hoskins says, “We have tremendous opportunities in several languages. One is the (Persian) language for Iran where the church is really in desperate need of children’s and youth materials and so the church has approached us, asking us if we could please translate our Book of Hope into the (Persian) language.”

It costs about $20,000 for each translation project. Currently, someone is matching dollar for dollar any donations made for Book of Hope’s Muslim outreach. Hoskins says, “Normally, one dollar reaches three children with a Scripture portion, but today because of this opportunity, actually, $1 reaches six kids with the Gospel.”

Source

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This as well as the previous post came from SharperIron and I thought you might enjoy them.

Not long ago a well-meaning group of laymen came from a neighboring church to see me. They wanted me to advise them on some convenient and painless method of getting rid of their pastor. I’m afraid, however, that I wasn’t much help to them. At the time I had not had the occasion to give the matter serious thought. But since then I have pondered the matter a great deal and the next time anyone comes for advice on how to get rid of the pastor, here’s what I’ll tell them. One, look the pastor straight in the eye while he’s preaching and say “amen” once in a while and he’ll preach himself to death. Two, pat him on the back, brag on his good points and he’ll probably work himself to death. Three, dedicate your life to Christ and ask the preacher for some job to do, preferably some lost people you could win to Christ and he’ll die of heart failure. Four, get the church to unite in prayer for the preacher and he’ll soon become so effective that a larger church will take him off your hands.

I thought that the following information might be of interest to you.  This pertains to pastors but I am sure is equally or more so applicable to missionaries.  We need to work at developing our spiritual life so that we will not fall into one of these traps. 

Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, in a recent podcast reported on a recent study by Focus on the Family. He reports the following:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, contention in churches, or spiritual burnout.
  • 50 percent of pastors will be divorced by the time they leave the ministry.
  • 80 percent of pastors and 84 percent of spouses feel discouraged or unqualified in their roles as pastors.
  • 50 percent are so discouraged they would leave if they could but have no other way to make a living.
  • our out of five seminary and Bible school grads who enter the ministry will leave it in the first five years after graduation.
  • 80 percent of spouses feel their spouse is over-worked. 80 percent wish their husbands would leave the ministry.
  • 80 percent of pastor’s wives say the most destructive event that ever occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered ministry.
  • 70 percent of pastors fight depression.
  • 40 percent have had an extramarital affair since starting ministry.
  • 70 percent of pastors say that the only time studying the Word is when they are preparing a sermon.

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Numbers 14:21  But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

 The earth will be filled with His glory He says. He is angry, Moses has warned God that people are watching Him and will say that He couldn’t take care of His people  if He destroys them.  God hears the prayer of Moses but immediately replies: the world will be filled with His glory.  He earnestly desires that the world be filled with His glory yet the church that claims to love and worship Him seems unconcerned about something He so desires.  The church is more preoccupied with making sure the members are happy and comfortable.  Most of our church plans are internal.  What is good for us but not so much what does He want and what about the world He loves so much and has sent us to preach to.

Numbers 11:16-17 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

God told Moses to gather 70 men. He told Moses that He would take of Moses’ spirit and put it on them so that they could help bear the burden of the people since Moses had already acknowledged that he could not bear the people alone.

Numbers 11:14  I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

If from the early days of Moses ministry we see that he couldn’t bear the burden alone why is it that we do not take the time to consider that God’s work today requires that we train men to do the work. Discipleship

Matthew 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

is just a repeat of what God told Moses to do. If you are to have a successful ministry and really reach and impact the world you will have to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry for the edification of the body or church.

Ephesians 4:11-12  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Commit now to train men and women to carry the load with you so that we can more effectively reach the world with the gospel message.

Numbers 11:14  I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

No pastor, missionary, or leader can bear all the people in his ministry.  God fully intended for you to train other men to help you.  That is what happens in

Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

when the apostles choose men to help them.  That is what happens when Moses later chooses men to divide his responsibility.  Also

Ephsians 4:11-12  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

we are taught to train men and women to do the ministry.  Get out from under so much burden.  Train some people to help you.  You are not a success until you have made another a success.

Often as you read the Old Testament you will wonder why so much detail in things that do not matter any longer but the truth is that they do matter and especially to you as missionaries who are on different fields in the world.  I used these verses to teach cleanliness that wasn’t always practiced and could do so without being paternalistic because it is what the Bible says.  All of the Scriptures were given by inspiration and they all have great value.  I hope you will read them with your eyes open to see what God has put there that can be used to further His kingdom 

Lev 11:32  And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.

These verses form a part of Old Testament health laws that are still applicable today all over the world but especially in third world countries. I think it behooves the missionary to take these verses and teach them so that the way we handle food that is so different because of our health laws will not seem so arrogant because we show them that we got it from the Word of God.

If a dead body fell on a wooden vessel, or any vessel, clothing, skin or a sack it was to be put into water and made to set there for several hours until the evening before it would be clean.

Well since I know that I am not the best at teaching your classes I thought I would share with you what I found on one of my favorite web pages on missions.  You must go there and visit it and spend lots of time there.  The man does a tremendous job teaching on and explaining missions:

  1. Choose to find the subject useful.
    • Poor listeners dismiss most lectures as dull and irrelevant. They turn off quickly.
    • Effective listeners separate the wheat from the chaff. They choose to listen to discover new knowledge.
  2. Concentrate on the words and message, not on the professor’s looks, clothes or delivery.
    • Poor listeners notice faults in a lecturer’s appearance or delivery.
    • Effective listeners strive to pick every professor’s brain for self-gain.
  3. When you hear something you’re not sure you agree with, react slowly and thoughtfully.
    • Poor listeners stop listening to the speaker and start listening to themselves. They either passively reject what is being said or they launch into impassioned rebuttals (to themselves).
    • Effective listeners don’t jump to conclusions and then disengage. They keep conclusions tentative while getting more information.
  4. Identify the “big ideas,” those fundamental concepts to which everything else in the lecture is related.
    • Poor listeners say, “I listen only for facts.” They may retain a few of those facts, but the information is usually garbled.
    • Effective listeners look for foundational concepts. They grab key ideas and use them as anchor points for the entire lecture.
  5. Adjust your note taking system to the lecturer’s pattern.
    • Some poor listeners attempt to outline everything, believing an outline and notes are the same thing. They get frustrated when they cannot see “points A, B and C.”
    • Effective listeners adjust their note-taking to the organizational pattern used by the lecturer.
  6. Stay attentive.
    • Poor listeners let their minds to wander.
    • Effective listeners remain focused and actively try to absorb material.
  7. Aggressively tackle difficult material.
    • When poor listeners encounter a tough topic, they stop absorbing and let things start bouncing off them.
    • Effective listeners condition themselves to be interested in challenging matters. They find a challenge in grasping the meaning of what is being said — no matter how difficult the subject.
  8. Don’t get derailed by emotionally charged “buzz” words that trigger negative responses.
    • Poor listeners tune people out on the basis of a few words.
    • Effective listeners don’t let the emotional baggage of a word hinder them from getting at the substance of a lecture.
  9. Get to know the professor personally.
    • Poor listeners see professors as talking heads.
    • Effective listeners like to pick up interesting facts about professors (personal history, family life, hobbies, etc.).
  10. Understand and use the differential between the speed of speaking and the speed of thinking. We think at about 400 words per minute. That’s four times faster than most speakers can talk.
    • Poor listeners drift back and forth between a lecture and thoughts about other things.
    • Effective listeners use the thinking/speaking differential in three ways:
      1. Riding the crest of the wave by trying to anticipate the next point of the lecture.
      2. Evaluating what the lecturer is using for supporting evidence.
      3. Periodically summarizing the lecture to themselves.

Sparked by material in the December 15, 1999 issue of “The Professor in the Classroom,” © by Leadership Lane

 I really want you to go look at this page.  You will enjoy it.

Leviticus 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

Strange fire is a fire that the Lord has not commanded us to offer. He wants to be worshipped and served as He has commanded. We do not decide what is right or good, He does. How many of our churches are offering strange fire to our God. If He has commanded us to take the gospel to the whole world and our obedience to his commands is for His glory and our worship towards Him what does that say about the way we do things.

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