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As promised, here comes the first part of the new official sequel to God vs Wealth, creatively called God vs Poverty. While the former video series discussed whether a Christian should be rich or not (and found out that the answer was “not”), this series will look at what the Bible says about poverty reduction. It was filmed when I visited Iris South Africa (with a lot of wonderful children “helping” me with the shooting) and consists of five parts:
In this first part, I argue that poverty reduction must be based on love and that one of the main economic problems in the world is that the rich don’t know the poor. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world and the reason is of course that the rich separated themselves and refused to get to know the poor. When people from different socio-economic classes become friends, it will be impossible for the wealthy to ignore their needs and problems of the needy. Our generosity should not be excluded to people we know of course, but if we only know people with our own socio-economic status, something is terribly wrong. (more…)
Two earthquakes with the magnitude of 7.7 and 7.2 have hit the very poor districts of Awaran and Turbat in the Balochistan province, Pakistan. At least 375 people have died and 185 000 have been affected. Thousands are homeless and in need of immediate humanitarian relief.
Unfortunately, not many aid organizations are working in the area. It is a forgotten disaster. The only Christian NGO I could find was Christian Aid who cooperate with Muslim Hands to bring aid to the Balochistan victims. But then, we also have the grace of more relational international contact. (more…)
Today is 50 years since Martin Luther King‘s extremely famous “I have a dream” speech at Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. He has inspired countless people through the decades to passionately work for justice and freedom using non-violence, and also to seek the God he so zealously followed. The problems he adressed – racism, injustice and violence – still exist in various forms, and so we should take his example and keep up the good fight against it. Here are three areas I think needs special concern:
Racism and Xenophobia in Europe
The ugliness of racism sadly exists in most places arounf the world, and even though the situation for African Americans have become better it is far from optimal. Yet, as a European, I think what we are seeing here sometimes are even far worse. In Greece a neo-Nazi party got 7 % of the seats in the parliament. In Hungary, a neo-Nazi party got 12 % of the seats in the parliament. Hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, Blacks, homosexuals and other minorities are on the rise. Just a couple of weeks ago, a Muslim woman here in Sweden got beaten by a racist for wearing a hijab. The event caused a massive protest where thousands of women weared hijab in solidarity. Then, a new group of racists found the woman and beat her up again. What can we do? Use the example of Luther King: be a light in the darkness, use nonviolence in the midst of violence, be loving in the midst of hate, welcome the stranger in the midst of xenophobia. (more…)
Today is a big day, where we celebrate the thousands of brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to help and save others. Over 200 million people are every year affected by humanitarian crisis, and humanitarian aid workers do what they can to alliviate suffering and save lives. But it’s risky. Every year several humanitarian aid workers die in service. This is the main reason Doctors Without Borders had to leave Somalia recently – it was too dangerous. Thus, World Humanitarian Day not only celebrates humanitarian action but also commemorates humanitarian martyrs.
As Christians, we should have humanitarian passion. We should be on the frontlines to recognize this day, spread its message and donate to humanitarian relief. I highly recommend the Christian organizations Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision. They rock and are making a wonderful impact to spread the Kingdom through love and justice. Happy WHD!
For several years, some very dear friends of mine in the missions organization Touching Asia has worked against trafficking and child prostitution in Nepal and India. Even though many challenges remain, they have rescued hundreds of girls from the brothels and provide them with a safe and loving home. They and their partnering organizations that they cooperate with have receieved acknowledgements from both the Nepali and Swedish government. And soon a documentary about this ministry will be released: Untouchable Children of God.
The film will show both the darkness and the light. The avarage age of a girl who is trafficked from Nepal to an Indian brothel is 13 years. There they have to receive over ten customers a day, with no chance of quiting – slavery in its clearest form. Thousands of children are living this way, and they continue to do so for years and years, banning them from any chance to get educated.
But there is hope. If you want to support Touching Asia’s ministry in Nepal, go to their website or to the website of Love Nepal. And pleae pray that they and others may receive unlimited power from the Holy Spirit to liberate even more captives and turn beauty out of ashes.
YouTube wanted me to do a trailer for my channel, so I made this one, which I from now on also will have on the about section of this blog. It’s a video where Surprise Sithole, Heidi Baker, Simon Adahl, Andreas Cucca, Michael Liliequist and me share why we believe that it is important to combine miracles with activism. Heidi shares when she saw food multiply, Simon when the Lord gave him a prophetic word of knowledge about aid relief and Andreas when he saw a lame beggar in Guinea being healed. And I do some quick Bible studies about when charismatic activism appears in the Scriptures. Enjoy!
I’m currently at the Frizon (“Free Zone”) Festival, one of the biggest Christian youth events in Sweden. It’s actually a music festival with concerts and stuff, but it also includes services, Bible studies, seminars and everything else you’ll find at a Christian conference. And what I really love is that it both welcomes charismatic fire and radical activism. For example, you will find:
Daily testimony meetings where the youth share miracles they’ve experienced
Almost completely vegetarian food
Prophetic guidance where prophetic people pray for you
Seminars about migration policy, poverty reduction and the fight against trafficking
(Thanks to Robert Martin for the video.)
A friend of mine just told me about her home church in a rich European city. Lots of wealthy people are going there, and eventually a poor Romanian beggar showed up asking for money outside the church. My friend and her friends felt compassion for this poor woman, got her some breakfast and invited her in. People were staring. People were whispering. A lady came to them and said that the Romanian woman is scaring her children and that she’s probably involved in trafficking, with criminals taking the money she is begging for. Eventually, a man came and led her out of the church. She wasn’t welcome.
Needless to say, my friend and her friends were chocked. They took this lady to another church. Here, she was radically saved, receiving Christ as her saviour. She was very happy, but even though if she wasn’t kicked out this time, most people didn’t speak to her or tried to build a relationship with her. My friend and her friends were the exception of course, they collected money for her to pay for her son’s surgery back in Romania, but it was hard since many fellow Christians didn’t want to give.
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? (James 2:2-6)
Before we judge these churches though, examine yourself and your own congregation. John Chrysostom said “When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.” Are there any poor people in your church? If not, why don’t they come? If there are, are their needs met? What is your attitude to the beggar on the street? Do you give to the one who asks you as Jesus commanded us (Lk 6:30)? Do you have prejudices like in the video above?
“Sometimes I wish we still were Quakers”, Christy Wimber said this morning at the Nordic Vineyard Summer Camp, which I am currently enjoying. Christy belonged to the Yorba Linda Friends Church where John Wimber and his family worshipped, and joined them as they got kicked out of it when they started to heal the sick and baptize converts. She has been a Vineyarder ever since and married one of John’s sons. But she still wishes she was a Quaker.
I can see why. Quakerism, with its teaching on radical discipleship, pacifism and social justice, never left John either. I’ve already collected some quotes from him about poverty and social justice, but now I got hold of a book here at the conference, The Way In is the Way On, where chapter three is totally devoted to John’s teaching about this issue. Here’s an excerpt:
I love to teach on social justice! It really is one of my passions. Justice always go hand in hand with true revival and renewal of the Spirit. Justice – setting things right for the poor and marginalized – is one of the primary purposes for God sending His Son into the world. He came in order to set things right. Great leaders in the history of the church have always understood the relationship between faith and justice. There has never been a movement of God started on fire that did not have a ministry to the poor.
On greatnonprofits.org, there are 31 reviews of the charismatic missionary organisation Iris Ministries, or Iris Global as they nowadays call themselves. Everyone have given five out of five stars. Here are some of the reviews:
Iris Global wholeheartedly beats with the heartbeat of God. They move to bring the love of Jesus to not just the poor, widowed, orphaned but also and always to the person that stands right in front of them. It’s incredible to see and organization recklessly abandoned to take the love of Christ to every single heart that they encounter, without a secret agenda but to solely love! The experience I had with Iris was life-changing, I can never be the same.
My life was personally transformed in immeasurable ways through Iris Global. Never had I been so powerfully and overwhelmingly loved. One thing is being personally changed by a non-profit, but another is witnessing the trustworthiness and reliance one can have in KNOWING so beautifully that every penny invested towards Iris’ work is exponentially having life-giving impacts to both individuals and corporate masses.
When I spent time in Mozambique with Iris ministries I saw the lives of many many precious children, mamas , papas, young men and young woman being changed daily! Not only did I witness a love that was so transcendent I found I was the one that was being blessed by These incredible villages full of transformed people living in poverty but having a richness that could not be added in dollars! I saw children with no hope being given a hope for the future! The work iris is doing worldwide is in my opinion some of the most important work of our lifetime! I believe that through the laid down love of the body of Christ serving with Iris Global we will see an end to world hunger in our life time! Hearts yielded to love.
The first prophetic word I recieved in SA was that I would use my video camera to spread God’s glory. So here are some of the glorious stuff i filmed down there:
Mama Tesia Nicole, South Africa’s version of Heidi Baker, asked me to do a video for them about Village of Hope, their community center in Backdoor which works to improve people’s lives and spread the Gospel of hope. In Backdoor, the unemployment rate is around 80 %, the HIV rate is extremely high and only one third of the youth finish high school. To tackle these problems, Village of Hope includes a pre-school, a feeding programme, a youth center and more.
In this video, Pastor Surprise Sithole shares two testimonies in Iris Revival Church, Nelspruit South Africa: Firstly, a church member has been healed from cancer; secondly, Surprise’s wife Tryphina and their son Enoch saw a castle in the sky. The castle was levitating in the air. Both of them saw it clearly. Suddenly the castle was covered by clouds, and when they disappeared the castle was gone. “What do you think it means?” some one asks Surprise. “Well, a castle belongs to a King.”
The story of Iris Ministries South Africa is to a large extent the story of Surprise Sithole, a man of God who has experienced many miracles. In the mid-90’s, shortly before he connected with Iris, he received a prophetic word from the Lord about moving to a white river. At first he didn’t understand what it meant, buy then he found out that there’s actually a place named White River in South Africa. So he and his wife Tryphina moved from Mozambique to SA.
God continued to speak to Surprise about ministering on “the mountain” – Backdoor, a township outside White River. Back then, Backdoor was known to be a very dangerous place, where the crime rate was very high and robbery was a part of daily life. The Sithole family moved there anyway, and they were severely tested – once they were almost killed by a violent gang. But as their church plant grew and their social ministry expanded, the community started to change.
As I wrote in my previous blog post, there are still many problems in Backdoor, but the crime rate really has decreased a lot since Iris started working there. Of course, it’s hard to tell if that would have happened anyway, but surely Iris has contributed a lot to the good trend. Its community center, Village of Hope, includes a preschool, a bible school, a feeding programme, a sowing center, a youth ministry and soon also a carpentry. Everything they do is aiming to bring help and hope to the people.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Iris Relief is right now helping Syrian refugees in Jordan, bringing food, love and the power of the living God. On their facebook feed as well as through other sources, the team publish several testimonies of hope and relief in the midst of unimaginable suffering. Here are some of those testimonies:
I have been been brought to tears today as I sat with the Syrian Refugees listening to their tragic and horrific stories of what war has cost them. Love looks like something! – Daniel
Our Iris Relief Middle East team had so much favor today and made it into the refugee camp in Zaa-tari where 100,000 refugees are staying. We listened to horrendous stories of imprisonment and torture. We saw inner healings as well as many physical healings as we prayed at each tent. The indigenous Jor-danians said that the kind of breakthrough that we saw today has never happened before. These desperate people are absolutely beautiful and Papa God has broken our hearts for them – Christian
Sitting in a UNHCR tent w/ a family of Sy-rian refugees who fled war only 4 days before, I was blown away by this muffin. At her young age she has lived through bombs, bullets and 2 massacres. 1 of 400 ppl and another of 500 ppl. Looking deep into her eyes, holding her in my arms and echoing each other’s giggles I could only lean back on the goodness of God. No matter how bad the circumstance, his love is ALWAYS enough. Always. His beauty is found in the hope he brings to the hurting, the life he restores to the broken-hearted and the fact that he powerfully pursues us wherever we’re at. We’ve seen so much pain, so much devastation but I’ve never been more in love or filled with more hope. – Cassandra (more…)
I know, I’ve written about the crisis in Syria before, it shouldn’t be new to anyone that the humanitarian situation there is catastrophical. But things have become even worse. Today, leaders of four giat UN agencies – UNICEF, WFP, OCHA and UNHCR – published the video above were they demand more support for the humanitarian relief in Syrian and neighbouring countries. There isn’t enough money. People die because of lack of money. The political leaders of donor countries are to blame for this of course, but it won’t hurt if we dig in our pocket books ourselves to save lives.
As of the beginning March 2013, Jordan has received over 320,000 Syrian refugees, with the numbers expected to double or triple over the coming months. There are wide spread shortages of food, water, medical, hygiene and education resources. Jordan is under pressure and struggling to keep up with the demand of the ever increasing basic needs of those seeking refuge. (more…)
After two years of extremely violent conflict, the humanitarian situation in Syria is now catastrophic and the aid provided falls drastically short of what is needed. The diplomatic paralysis preventing a political resolution of the conflict can by no means excuse the failure of humanitarian response. MSF calls on the parties involved in the conflict to negotiate an agreement on humanitarian aid, to facilitate its supply around the country via neighbouring countries or across front lines. Meanwhile, states, United Nations and donors must acknowledge the country’s fragmentation and urgently give their support to NGOs to help them provide assistance where they can.
The Syrian population is faced with a conflict of extreme violence and a humanitarian situation of catastrophic proportions: the previously well functioning health system has collapsed; food shortages are commonplace, and water and electricity supply is disrupted. “Medical aid is being targeted, hospitals destroyed and medical personnel captured,” explains Dr. Marie-Pierre Allié, President of MSF France. According to the United Nations, 2.5 million Syrians have been displaced in the country, while 57% of hospitals have been damaged and 36% are unable to function according to official data. These statistics do not include the private clinics or makeshift hospitals that have been destroyed or damaged.