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Two friends of mine here in Sweden have studied a year at SOS Mission Bible School, and a few days ago my Facebook feed was filled with testimonies about miracles thay had seen in Mbeya, southwest Tanzania, where they had done a missions trip. Mission SOS have put several videos from this event on their Vimeo, and I would like to share these amazing testimonies with you:
First we have an intro video, where the campaign coordinator shares that miracles are taking place even before the campaign has started.
Then comes the report from the first night of the campaign, where many were healed and saved. A young girl shares how she prayed for another girl who was totally deaf, and she starts to weep of joy when she explains how she was healed! (more…)
Iris Global is the best missionary organization I know of – they combine evangelism, poverty reduction and the power of the Holy Spirit, all soaked in worship and passion for Jesus. Last weekend they did an outreach in the “bush bush” (i.e. very rural place) of Mozambique to share the love of God – and it was truly a success. I follow Heidi Baker, the leader of Iris, closely on Facebook and found that she posted these amazing pictures:
“Pointing out scripture to a village chief and his mother. They both came to Jesus that day…..”
“Baptizing people in the ocean this afternoon near a remote village that never had a gospel witness before today…”
I love to read reports about evangelistic campaigns in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and just two weeks ago my Facebook feed was filled with testimonies from my Facebook friend Tommy Lilja who organized a campaign in Kitwe, Zambia. Many were saved, healed and baptized with the Holy Spirit. Here is what he reported (translated from Swedish):
Resting after having eaten some french fries. A good first night. A little bit chilly. Many healings. A man around 25 years old had been blind since he was 10, he was healed, another young man shared how his ear “popped” when it opened and he received his hearing again.
Thousands came to receive Jesus. So many were baptized in the Holy Ghost, a real breakthrough. It was a life-changing meeting. Many came broken, sick and without hope. But they went home with Jesus and hope for a bright future. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was there and the Pentecostal revival is spreading across the world.
“At the cross the work was finished
You were buried in the ground
But the grave could not contain You
For You wear the Victor’s crown” (more…)
- There’s a hashtag called #CARcrisis. It’s used on Twitter.
- It has nothing to do with cars. It’s about the crisis in the Central African Republic, a republic in central Africa that has about the same size as Ukraine.
- The CAR crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophe on the planet right now. Due to the ongoing conflict, thousands have died, hundreds of thousands are refugees, millions need urgent humanitarian assistance.
- The UN fears that the conflict soon will escalate into a genocide. Similar hate propagande that was used in the Rwandan genocide is used in CAR today.
- The people that may commit the genocide are mostly Christians. And the victims are mostly Muslims. Yeah, sorry if I turned your prejudices on their heads there.
- The conflict escalated when the Muslim rebel group Seleka took over the government, but they’re not in the government anymore. They left in in January 2014. But the conflict is still going on by ex-Seleka members fighting the mostly Christian militia anti-balaka.
- The new president of CAR is a chick, and she’s awesome. Catherine Samba-Panza is committed to peace, justice and women’s rights, and urges both the Muslim and Christian militias to drop their weapons and stop planning genocide.
- You can save lives in CAR. Just give a generous amount to World Food Programme and spread the word.
I remember how shocked I was when I heard about the Lord’s Resistance Army for the first time. This Christian militia wants to introduce a theocracy in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments, and the pathway to this goal is death and destruction. The LRA is infamous for cutting off people’s lips, hands or ears if they betray them, arguing that they’re following the Biblical command in Lev 2419-20: “Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”
The fact that Jesus abolished violence and said “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Mt 5:38-39) was something they didn’t like to mention.
The LRA is completely mad, and many are eager to point out that they aren’t very Christian at all but practice pagan, occult worship, and the Ten Commandments Theocracy is probably not their real goal at all. In later years, they have been very marginalized and are not even in Uganda any more. However, when I hear about the new anti-gay laws in Uganda, which put LGBT people in prison for life and which requires all citizens to “report” homosexuals, I wonder if the crazy LRA ideology hasn’t won a small victory after all. (more…)
The course in dogmatics I’ve just taken at my seminary was, as I’ve previously written, lacking global perspectives in general and charismatic theology in particular, but our teacher was very aware of this. He stressed that charismatic theology becomes more and more important as a result of the spread of Pentecostalism in the global South while non-charismatic Christendom is dying in the North (West), and recommended us to check out Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom, a book that I’ve now have had a look at.
Jenkins argues that Christianity has never been just a Western religion but a global one, and that the privileged position of Western Christendom is about to fall down. Today, Christianity is basically growing everywhere except Europe: in Latin America, Africa, Asia and even the Middle East millions are being saved. With the help of statistical predictions, Jenkins argue that in 2050 only one Christian in five will be white, and that proportion will probably continue to shrink.
Now, charismatic theology is very dominant among the Southern churches. Recently, Christianity Today, which traditionally has not been a big fan of the charismatic movement, argued that most Africans aren’t charismatic, emphasizing that most of them belong to Catholic, Anglican, Reformed or independent churches. But Jenkins show that most Southern Christians within these traditions have charismatic theology, even if they don’t call themselves charismatics or Pentecostals.
Wow, wow, wow. Compelled by Love is seriously one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s radical, passionate, moving, inspiring and awesome, it combines joyful happiness with serious pain and sorrow, and in the end I just sat in awe agreeing completely with Heidi Baker when she said that it’s all about Him – what this film portraits is nothing else than the life of Jesus today in one of the poorest nations in the world. It’s a film about an amazing missionary couple and their organization, yes, and for that very reason it is a film about Christ, because Christ is all they stand for in an amazing way.
The film is 100% Iris. It’s emotional. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. Some professional film makers would perhaps react to the patchwork-style; the film is chronological for only 30 minutes or so, and then holy anarachy is released with a multitude of different messages, themes and stories presented, some of which have already been published in YouTube clips. I love it! Shara Pradhan and her team simply takes the best Iris have directly from the field.
The Bethel and Iris culture (those ministries are basically “married” by now) talk a lot about honor, and this film truly wants to honor the life of Heidi and Rolland Baker. Bill Johnson is interviewed when he states that he simply knows no one who has constantly said “yes” to God the way Heidi has, and while she and Rolland are so extraordinary in that they always, continously, give everything to Him, their passion is multiplied to so many others that see that they are not superheroes but carrier of the divine presence of the Holy Spirit that are available for all of us. The film carefully emphasizes both sides of this paradox – the Bakers are amazing saints and should be recognized as such, but their gifts are not excluded to them but constantly multiplied to those who follow their example as they follow Christ. After all, it is the Mozambiqan bush pastors that have raised over 100 dead people within Iris, not the Bakers.
A month ago, I wrote about the mix of tears and joy, suffering and glory that Iris Ministries in the Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing. While people are losing their children and the women are raped by soldiers; miracles are abundant and the church has a burning passion for God. This paradoxal relationship between the cross and the glory may be hard for Western people to understand, but it is very real. Today I want to introduce you to a missionary who also experienced this in the Congo – but 50 years ago. Her name is Helen Roseveare.
After studying medicine in the UK and feeling the calling to be a missionary, Helen went to what was then Belgian Congo and started to develop the pretty much non-existant health care system. She was the only doctor for two and a half million people, saving thousands of lives. In the early 60’s, civil war broke lose as the Congolese people wanted to be liberated from Belgian colonialism. The war was extremely brutal. Helen was raped, twice.
Government soldiers came to my bungalow, ransacked it, then grabbed me. I was beaten and savagely kicked, losing my back teeth through the boot of a rebel soldier. They broke my glasses, so I could not see to protect myself from the next blow. Then, one at a time, two army officers took me to my own bedroom and raped me. They dragged me out into a clearing, tied me to a tree, and stood around laughing. And while I was there, beaten and humiliated and violated and ridiculed, someone discovered in the bungalow the only existing hand-written manuscript of a book I had been writing about God’s work in the Congo over an eleven-year period. They brought it out, put it on the ground in front of me, and burned it.
It takes less than that for others to leave both the country and the faith. But Helen knew the power and love of the living God, and she knew that He had called her to Congo to be an instrument of grace and peace. In an interview with Jesus Army, she told about the revival fires that her church saw in the midst of chaos:
All right, I will soon stop talking about Strange Fire (most of my Swedish Christian friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the conference, John MacArthur or even cessationism – those things aren’t so hot over here) but I have to comment Conrad Mbewe’s lectures before I move on to funnier things. Being the only non-Western speaker at the event, Mbewe shared his opinions on the charismatic movement in Africa. Those opinions were negative, to say the least. You can find transcriptions of his lectures here and here.
Mbewe’s main argument is that the popularity of the “charismatic chaos” in Africa is caused by how well it fits with traditional African spirituality. They share the same worldview. In African animism, belief in spirits is prevalent, and people go to the witchdoctors to be healed, delivered from evil spirits and to have prosperous crops. African charismatics behave just the same – they go to the “man of God” to be healed, delivered from evil spirits and to prosper. Thus, Mbewe argues, charismatic preachers are just like witchdoctors.
When I saw how Mbewe talks about worldviews, I immediately got flashbacks to good ol’ Power Evangelism by John Wimber. He dedicates a whole chapter to worldviews and describes the African and other non-Western worldviews in the same manner as Mbewe does – it is a worldview where the supernatural is natural and where supernatural healing, prophetic messages and deliverance from spirits are part of normal life. However, Wimber rightly argued that this is the biblical worldview as well.
The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news are being preached to the poor. – Mt 11:5
I’ve known Andreas Cucca for over a year through the internet, but today I got to meet him in person for the first time. He is working with the Swedish organization Go Out Mission and has participated in almost 20 crusades all over the world, primarily Western Africa and Southern Asia. I kindly asked him if he could share some miracle stories, and he just went off like a cannon ball:
“Wow, where should I start? The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, cancer tumours disappear! I prayed for a mute man in Guinea that hadn’t been able to speak since he was born, now he was between 20 and 30 years old and his first words were Jesus, hallelujah, amen. Another time I proclaimed that the lame were healed and a lame beggar outside the campaign area was instantly healed, everyone went wild when they saw it! And another time we had prayed that the blind would be healed and a man came to the stage and said that he used to be blind but now he could see. However, his eyes still looked really blurry so we wondered if he really was telling the truth, but he could grab my nose when I asked him and while he was there on stage, I saw with my own eyes how all bluriness disappeared and his eye became normal. It was a creative miracle!”
And so on and so on. These things I expect from missionaries to Africa nowadays, I get surprised if they haven’t seen the blind see and deaf hear. A couple of weeks ago I met James Thompson, an Australian guy who together with his wife Sarah had served for Iris Ministries in Zimbabwe. He shared the most amazing testimonies about a sweet, blind old woman that could see her grandson for the first time after God healed her, as well as about a deaf-mute who started to hear and speak:
Feeling depressed about all the wars, poverty, corruption, terrorism, famines and natural disasters in SSA? There sure is a lot to pray for and work against, but praise God – it’s getting better! Here’s some statistics from ONE:
Now of course there are regional differences; and even though things are generally getting better, the social, economic and political status of SSA countries are still very low compared to many other parts of the world. But we should never lose hope, change is possible! Let’s pray and work for more development, peace and revival on the beautiful African continent!
Dear friends of Iris around the world,
We in Iris continue to face more need, challenge, opposition, helplessness and perplexity than we can bear, yet daily God shows up and we soldier on. We are jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7). We often feel under great pressure, condemned to failure. But we have learned that this happens that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9).
We cannot overstate how much more help we need in every way. We need administrators, organizers, technicians, engineers, mechanics, builders, doctors, nurses, teachers, farmers, computer and Internet geeks, donors, etc., ad infinitum, along with every kind of spiritual gifting. The reason is that Iris is not simply a church, or a children’s center, or a relief effort, or a Bible school, or a mission training base, but all these and more as one example of an entire Kingdom environment. We exist to demonstrate an all-encompassing love that flows from God’s heart, a love that the unsaved have never seen before. We are here to seek and save the lost, and in the process give them a foretaste of heaven and our unshakeable inheritance that is to come.
We came to Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, to prove the Gospel, both in our own hearts and lives and among the neediest people we could find. And the Gospel has taken root all around us. Churches are being added to our number weekly, mounting into the thousands. After so many years of cruel colonialism, communism and civil war, the overall climate of Mozambique has changed, deeply affected, we believe, by the Gospel. It has recently been voted one the most peaceful countries in Africa. Its economic growth rate is amazing. Major energy resources are being discovered.
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda reports on the Christ for All Nations website:
Dear Mission Partners,
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? Watch the video above!
As many of you will be aware, Ivory Coast has been plagued by many years of civil war. Terrible atrocities have been committed and much blood has been shed in this place. In fact, our crusade field bears a grim reminder of the desperately wicked condition of fallen humanity. At the back of the crusade field there is a distinct area where curious mounds of dirt are grown over with thick weeds. As our bulldozers were clearing the field in preparation for the campaign, we were asked by officials not to clear that particular area because it is a mass grave where countless unidentified corpses are buried. Yet, this week, this very field, once the scene of death and destruction on a massive scale, has been transformed into ground zero for a historic harvest and a mass Holy Spirit outpouring. It is a striking metaphor of God’s redemptive work through the cross.
While Mozambique, DR Congo and South Sudan also are facing enormous humanitarian crises, Mali is perhaps the African country which has most problems right now. Islamists supported by al Qaida have taken control of the northern parts of the country to practice extreme sharia laws, and to stop northern Mali from becoming a terrorist state, France is cooperating with the Mali government in a military offensive. In the midst of violent conflict are millions of civilians that already were poor, hungry and sick before. The result is disastrous. UNHCR reports:
Since the start of the conflict in northern Mali a year ago, more than 150,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while nearly 230,000 have sought safety in other areas inside Mali. […] Most are living in poor neighbourhoods with little or no access to housing or vital services such as clean water, education and health.
People fleeing the current fighting between French-backed government forces and rebels in the north of Mali tell alarming accounts of atrocities. A former resident of Gao, who left the northern town after recent air strikes, told UNHCR that food and fuel were in short supply.
“The situation in Gao is difficult. The rebels took all the medicines from Gao hospital. I saw dead bodies everywhere, in the yard of the hospital,” said Agesha, who fled the town last Sunday.
I strongly urge you to support Christian Aid’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal, which will bring food and humanitarian relief to the people in Mali and surrounding areas. And I also urge you to pray for this country. There are few Christians in this country, and because of the rise of extreme Islamism, they are severely persecuted. Yet, the main thing Mali needs to get rid of war, poverty, terrorism and hunger, is a mighty Holy Spirit revival. They need a miracle, and they need it now.
“The flood was causing vastly more than homelessness. Corpses were floating in the floodwaters. Helicopters rescued ten thousand people from treetops and roofs along the Limpopo River, but ninety thousand more were stranded and in immediate danger of being swept away and drowned. Most could not swim, but the current was so powerful and deep that even strong swimmers could not last long. Each day those trapped in tiny areas grew weaker from hunger and exposure. Small children were affected quickly by malnutrition, so they were rescued first, leaving their parents behind.
Those rescued were deposited in isolated areas, still wet and miserable and without food or services of any kind. Children were hungry, sick and crying, with high fevers, and left without mothers and fathers. International aid was on the way but greatly delayed by red tape, and it was far less than what was required. In this huge country with so many orphans and children in distress, there were pitifully limited facilities for taking care of them. In the Lord we tried to fill a vacuum among the neediest of them all.”
This is what missionary Rolland Baker writes in his book Always Enough (Chosen Books, 2003) about the devastating floods that hit Mozambique 13 years ago. His organization, Iris Ministries, did their best to alleviate suffering and save lives in the midst of disaster. In the book, he expresses the joy of seeing happiness returning to those who recieve the aid, but also the pain of knowing that there were many they didn’t were able to help. Today, he and the other Iris missionaries will have to experience this all over again.
Because of extremely heavy rain the last week, southern Mozambique has been struck with the largest flood disaster since 2000. UN OCHA reports that 250 000 are affected, of which 146,000 have to be housed in temporary shelters. These people are in desperate need. Katherine Mueller from the Red Cross says: The main needs are tents and clean water, but they basically need everything.”
Iris Relief has sent a team to the areas affected by the floods to bring humanitarian aid and the power and love of the Holy Spirit. Please support this, go here and scroll down to “Iris Relief: Responds to Mozambique Floodings”. Or you can give to World Food Programme, Unicef or some other organization that are active in the area. Thank you, and God bless you!