Pentecostal Growth Explosion Around the World
One question continually being asked is, “How can the Christian church grow in such an antagonistic environment?” The reality is that though the early church was conceived in the wicked constraints of the Roman Empire, it still found a way to grow exponentially. Historians acknowledge this expansion happened, principally, through healing and deliverance. In a time of intense persecution and evil, numerous conversions were ignited by these compelling signs and wonders. And the supernatural is also facilitating growth these days, even in the most tumultuous environments.
This kind of expansion is currently evident throughout the third world, with many testimonies and demographic reports of healing, deliverance and the gifts of the Spirit. Luis Lugo points out that “Pentecostal beliefs and practices are literally reshaping the face of Christianity throughout the developing world.”
Signs and wonders have proven to be a catalyst for a significant number of conversions in Mozambique, Kenya and other parts of Africa. The Pew Research Report acknowledges that, “The share of the population that is Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9 percent in 1910 to 63 percent in 2010.” Similarly, J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Ph.D., professor at the Trinity Theological Seminary in Ghana acknowledges that: “The ministries of healing and deliverance have thus become some of the most important expressions of Christianity in African Pentecostalism…the movement has defined itself in terms of the recovery of the experiential aspects of the faith by demonstrating the power of the Spirit to infuse life, and the ability of the living presence of Jesus Christ to save from sin and evil.”
A similar impact is now being felt throughout Latin America. It has been recently reported that over 40 percent of the Guatemalan population closely identifies with Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity. In the same way, Argentina has multitudes filling up soccer stadiums and transforming the ethos of their nation. It would be difficult to find a South American nation that isn’t being impacted by the ministry of healing and deliverance. One Catholic detractor exclaims: “Not only does Pentecostalism claim at least 70 percent of all Latin American Protestants, but it also exerts great influence on many ‘renewed’ mainline Protestant denominations, such as Presbyterians and Methodists, who have had to adopt pneuma-centric practices [i.e. healing, deliverances, tongues] in order to remain relevant.”
Brazil is also experiencing accelerated growth due to supernatural displays of power. Pastor Marcio Valadao of Lagoinha Baptist Church acknowledged in 2011 exclaimed, “In 1998 there were more or less 5,000 members. Today we have surpassed 35,000.” Similarly, Paul Strand observes that, “Christianity is increasing in Brazil. If the trend continues, it is predicted that more than half will be evangelical Christians by 2020. It’s a place where belief in miracles and healings are high.”
Signs and wonders aren’t just bringing extraordinary growth in Africa and Latin America; they are also transforming the vast continent of Asia. China only had around 1 million Protestants in 1949. Now there are conservatively “more than 58 million Protestants in China.” Professor Yang, a noted religious researcher in China, believes this number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. He says, “By 2030, China’s total Christian population…would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world.”
Similar to the experience of the early church, Christianity around the world is now being spread through the miraculous. Signs and wonders did not die out in the third century. In fact, where healing and deliverance are being expressed, the church is increasing.
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Parents in Fremont, California are pushing their school district to remove a health book with sections about oral sex, bondage and drug use from local high schools, saying there is no way the publishers can adapt the adult content featured in the book.
The Fremont Unified School District purchased the textbook, Your Health Today, over the summer to be taught to incoming freshmen in its six high schools. After overwhelming response from parents, Superintendent Jim Morris offered to have the books amended. However concerned parents want the books pulled from shelves because of its adult subject matter.
“My thinking is that there’s no way they can amend this book. There is so much adult content in this book; how can they remove everything?” Asfia Ahmed told The Christian Post. Ahmed is one of the parents behind the “Protect Fremont Children” petition against the books. The petition, signed by more than 2,300 people, explains that the textbook “exposes youth to sexual games, sexual fantasies, sexual bondage with handcuffs, ropes and blindfolds, sexual toys and vibrator devices, and additional instruction that is extremely inappropriate for 13 and 14 year-old youth.”
Ahmed said she and other parents welcome sex education. However, she worries that the Your Health Today book goes to extremes and gives young adults the impression that those behaviors are typical.
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Bush Compared to Hitler in School Assignment
A Washington D.C. public school gave a sixth grade class a homework assignment that required students to draw comparisons between former President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler.
The assignment was given out recently at McKinley Tech Middle School in Washington D.C. The assignment instructed students to draw examples from two texts they were assigned and compare similarities and differences between the two men.
When parents complained, they were told that the assignment was part of a curriculum unit approved by the school system.
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News in Brief
- Of the twelve most recent studies on the link between abortion and breast cancer, all found that women who had prior abortions were at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The breast cancer risk for women who have had prior abortions is five and a half times that of women who have not.
- Calling the church sex abuse scandal a “leprosy in our house,” Pope Francis tells an Italian newspaper that 1 in 50 Catholic clerics are pedophiles. In an interview, Francis is quoted as saying that advisers in the Church reassure him that the problem amounts to “about 2 percent.”
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Labeled Too Christian School Library Dumps Corrie ten Boom Books
Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is warning a charter school in Southern California that it is violating the First Amendment by removing library books based on their perceived Christian content. A parent of students enrolled at Springs Charter Schools recently was shocked to see some of the books being targeted for removal, including the well-known account of Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place. The parent contacted PJI after library personnel explained to her that they had been directed to remove Christian books, books by Christian authors, and books from Christian publishers.
PJI attorney Michael Peffer sent the school a cease-and-desist letter on Aug. 22, citing long-established Supreme Court precedent that strongly disapproves of school libraries removing books based on opposition to their content or message.
Last week, the superintendent of Springs Charter Schools, Kathleen Hermsmeyer, ignored the precedent in PJI’s letter and instead insisted, “We … do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves.”
PJI President Brad Dacus commented, “It is alarming that a school library would attempt to purge books from religious authors. Indeed, some of the greatest literature of Western Civilization comes from people of faith. Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? What about the Declaration of Independence that invokes the laws of nature and nature’s God? We are calling on Springs Charter Schools to immediately reverse their ill-conceived and illegal book-banning policy.”
The Pacific Justice Institue is prepared to take further legal action if the school continues to ignore its constitutional obligations.
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Indestructible Bible Rocks Kickstarter, Will Likely Soon Come to Stores
A Bible that is waterproof, dirt-proof and tear-proof may soon be hitting stores. The Forever Bible, created by Forever Publishing, promises to withstand anything without ripping or falling apart.
Forever Publishing calls the Forever Bible “virtually indestructible.” A kickstarter video shows the Bible being covered in ketchup, ice cream, jelly, chocolate syrup, dirt and coffee, then hosed off clean again.
According to the video, the Forever Bible’s pages are not made of trees and are environmentally friendly. Technological advances were made so that the Bible even floats, or “walks on water,” the company says.
The Bibles will come in three different translations (KJV, NIV and ESV) and will have prices ranging from $40 to $60. But Forever Publishing says they did not create the Forever Bible to make money. “Our goal isn’t profits—it is spreading the word of God,” according to the website. “For every Forever Bible that you purchase, we are able to donate additional Forever Bibles to missionary sites across the planet, giving people their very first Bible.”