Tag Archives: gospel

The Gospel in France rushes forward

The Gospel has grown by 10,000% in more than a century in France, evangelicalism’s holy grail in Europe.

In the year 1800, there were 2000 Protestant evangelicals, in 2019 there were more than 700,000, according to statistics in a FOCL Online video and news reports.

In 1970, there were 840 evangelical churches, today there are more than 2,440. Every 10 days, a new church opens, said David Brown, chairman of the Evangelism Commission of the French National Council of Evangelicals (CNEF).

“Their numbers are no doubt increasing with the evangelical churches’ emphasis of personal conversion and a direct relationship with God,” says anchor Stuart Norval of France 24 English news in a “Focus” report which characterized the growth as “surprising.”

The news is cheery since evangelical Christianity tails Islam and secular humanism in France. The humanist viewpoint that God is a “construct” used by the rich to suppress the poor was practically born in France. About 8% of the country is Muslim while evangelicals barely make up 1%.

Despite sobering demographics, evangelicals have been growing at about 2.4% a year, in line with most countries in the world, according to the Joshua Project.

Francois Loury is a recent convert in the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Paris. He recently was baptized and brings his whole family.

“It feels like a church that belongs to the modern world,” François says. “That’s what’s so good about it. That’s what makes it stand out. The pastors wear jeans. They don’t wear suits. They like to have fun; they tell jokes. Sometimes we even find ourselves laughing about religion. I think that in today’s world, that’s important, to have an open mind.”

Porte Ouverte Chrétienne, which means Christian Open Door, stands out compared to the mass offered by the Catholic church. Porte Ouverte’s worship is dynamic and heartfelt, activities are family oriented, and they reach thousands with simultaneous streaming over social media.

“When I attended Catholic mass I felt like a spectator,” says Eric Richter. “Our faith is a bit like for a fan in a soccer stadium. They’re in it together; they have faith in their players. And we have faith in God.”

Daniel Lietchi presides over CNEF’s committee to foment church planting praises God for the growth but prays for much more.

“If we continue like this with a new church established every 10 days, we’ll never accomplish our goal of having one church for every 10,000 French citizens,” Lietchi says. “We want things to progress twice, even three times, as fast. But the outcome depends on God’s will. For example in Spain, a new church opens every three days. Here in France, that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Much of the current church growth stems from a surge of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, where people in their native countries have a higher level of openness to the gospel.

Monique Kapinga immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo when her husband died. She found a similar worship style and the same earnestness of her native land in the l’Arche de Paix Church, which after 25 years has over 500 members.

“I came to the Arch of Peace because it is a church of truth,” Monique says. “We pray like we pray back home.”

But the spiritual support is not the only help she found at the Parisian church. She also received money and assistance with renewing her immigration status. It’s no wonder immigrants, lonely in a foreign land, congregate together for camaraderie and social networking.

CNEF’s Brown tracks the history of current growth of Christianity in France in the follow epochs:

>From 1935 to 1960, Assemblies of God led the charge with successful church planting

>From 1980 to 1990, the Charismatic movement brought a surge

>From 1990 to 2010, immigration brought a boon.

>Since 1995, native church planters are taking the lead.

Personal evangelism fuels the growth, but white French resist the gospel with a “double insulation.” He says: “They rebuff evangelism by saying they are Catholic or believers in secular philosophy, which is strong in France.

“A person says, ‘Well, I’m not really a believer,’ so you start talking about philosophy and try to convince them,” Brown says. “And then they suddenly say, ‘I’m a Catholic and we can’t believe that.’” Read the rest: Gospel in France

Daniel Chand traded punching for preaching

Daniel Chand loved to fight. As a boxer in Greenwich, England, he was a champion in the ring. On weekends at the pub he liked to raise hell and often found himself in drunken beer brawls.

But then he got arrested for really hurting someone and faced eight years in jail.

“I remember being outside the court room and I prayed to God to give me one more chance,” Daniel told the UK News Shopper. “The next thing I knew, the trial collapsed.”

Chand still loves to fight. But he has traded punching for preaching.

An earnest international evangelist, he has joined the ranks of a new generation of street preachers in London who have traded hellfire and brimstone for more tempered reasoning relying on apologetics.

And he loves praying for the sick — right there on the street or in the store.

“I remember walking up to a Muslim man who was limping and thinking that he might respond negatively to me because he was a different religion. I told him Jesus wanted to heal his leg. And he just looked at me.

“Then I prayed for him, and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. He was running up and down the DVD section.” Read the rest: Daniel Chand London street preacher.

Grandma Krav Maga beat up bad guy. New version of Good Samaritan

baton-rouge-cop-saved-by-good-samaritanA Baton Rouge grandmother is being called a Good Samaritan after she plunged into the middle of a life-or-death struggle between a cop and bad guy, saving the officer’s life.

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, didn’t think twice when she pounced on the back of a hulking Thomas Bennett after a routine drug arrest escalated suddenly into a dangerous fight for control of the officer’s weapon.

“I could see in his eyes he needed help,” said Williams-Tillman, who stopped her car, called 911, and lunged into the fray on Feb. 19. “You don’t have time to think about it. I did what God needed me to do.”

vickie-williams-tillmanThe grandmother pulled on Bennett’s arm as cop and suspect wrangled for the officer’s gun. All three fell to the ground.

Quickly, a backup unit pulled up and another officer stun-gunned the suspect, who was arrested on charges of battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Baton Rouge Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome lauded the lady for fearlessly joining the brawl.

“Vickie Williams-Tillman epitomizes the true Good Samaritan,” the mayor said, as reported in The Blaze. She reached out and offered a courageous and unconditional response to the officer. Ms. Williams-Tillman is a hero and demonstrates the true meaning of loving God and loving your neighbor.”

Cpl. Billy Aime was handcuffing the suspect after spotting incriminating evidence when Bennett suddenly resisted arrest. The cop struggled without success to subdue the suspect. Read the rest of the article.

Don’t forget the pigs

3-little-pigs

Today is an investment for tomorrow. If you goof off, you lose out. America is saturated with the financial future message, but what about the spiritual message?

The first pig lived carefree. He didn’t want to invest time into a costly and time-consuming construction. Preferring the party, he built a house of hay.

The second pig was middle of the road. He wasn’t as reckless as the first pig nor as much as a bore as the third pig. He built a better house, one of sticks.

The third pig invested time, effort and money to safeguard against tomorrow. Sure enough, it paid off. The first pigs were eaten by the wold (in Grimm’s version), and the third survived the onslaught.

three-little-pig-houses-at-pig-crash-sceneIt’s funny that people who take pains to assure their financial future are so careless with their eternal future. You would think that they would understand based on the same principle. Even more, since eternity makes this life pale in comparison, you would think they would work harder to build their heavenly mansion.

The wolf is coming. He will blow your construction down, if he can, and eat you up.

This applies to marriage as well. How much are you investing in your spouse? Are you still wooing her like you did when you were dating? A lot of people these days are saying that a marriage of sticks or hay (not bothering to formalize their live-together union) is just as good. Pay attention to the pigs.

The expansion of the Gospel in the San Fernando Valley

San Fernando Valley map

A map of services and studies of the Lighthouse Church. The line shows how we have advanced in the central region.

We own the central region of the Valley. We have Bible studies and services running up its spinal cord. Now to expand laterally.

I don’t think Christianity was supposed to be an armchair faith. It was meant to be active. We need to get out and project light, not just meet and talk about doing it.

In an extraordinarily short period of time, God multiplied a simple Bible study in my home to three nexus points of evangelism: church services in Anthony Beilenson Park at Lake Balboa, a Bible study at Las Palmas Park of the City of San Fernando and my Van Nuys Bible study in my apartment.

IMG_1572

Our intensive Bible study last night took place in Las Palmas Park of the City of San Fernando

I am surprised by this. I have known both growth and vast expanses of “stagnation” in ministry in my 16 years in Guatemala. Explosive growth is unusual, beautiful, special. It cannot be manufactured, planned for, conjured up. It comes sovereignly from God.

The only thing you can do when God moves is try to not screw it up. Excuse the expression. But what I mean is that if you let it go to your head, or if you get distracted, then you lose the wave or revival. The best thing to do is to keep your head down and try to ride the wave as far and long as you can.

And give the glory to God.

The Valley Boy Pastor is quite astonished at what God is doing.

Handfuls on purpose: God’s blessing on finances

God FinancesFinances are a dreary necessity that underpin the true joy of saving souls. I don’t believe that God’s main purpose is to bless His people. Yes, we are children of the King, but the Child of King didn’t have a home, much less a bank account.

Having disavowed the prosperity gospel heretics, I would wish to proceed with a balanced exposition on finances. I was struck by this reading Ruth: Let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glen them. (Ruth 2:16).

Boaz is a picture of Christ because he redeems her from deplorable poverty. Gleaning was a back-breaking job: 12 hours under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal. Boaz makes the decision to improve her lot significantly.

We can, therefore, ask God in prayer to drop “handfuls on purpose” for our ministries.

China poised to become most Christian nation

revival in chinaWithin 15 years, China should become the country with the most Christians in the world, according to a study.

Fenggang Yang, of Purdue University, predicts that China will reach 224 million Christians by the year 2030, as quoted in the UK Financial Times.

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Yang, an expert in sociology and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, in the UK Telegraph. “It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”

The explosion of Christianity in China will upend the traditional Christian powerhouses of the world. In 2010, the U.S. had around 159 million Protestants, and many observers say congregations are in decline.

china-balcome-churchAs part of a possible passing of the baton, China is now sending missionaries – especially to North Korea

“The number of Christians is extremely underestimated (in China) intentionally because the increase of religion would reflect negatively on government officials.” said Yang.

Currently, there are about 100 million Christians in the world’s most populous nation, which eclipses the 86.7 million-strong membership of the ruling Communist party, according to the Financial Times.

Jin Hongxin, 40, is not interested in the political or missiological implications of Chinese growth. She’s just proud to attend the mega church Liushi in Wenzhou, the city many outside observers call China’s Jerusalem due to its flourishing Christian churches.

“It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence,” she said at an Easter service, as reported by the Telegraph. “If everyone in China believed in Jesus then we would have no more need for police stations. There would be no more bad people and therefore no more crime.”

China’s churches started experiencing astronomical growth after the conclusion of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. A successor to Chairman Mao, Deng Xiaoping, reformed politics, liberalized the economy, and opened China to foreign countries. Read the rest of the story.

Editor’s Note: Chad Dou wrote this as a journalism assignment in my elective class at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

The gospel in ballet

Giselle and forgivness

Alyssa Bross in the title role in LAB’s Giselle.

Of course, it’s a silly love story, but I was quite surprised to stumble across the gospel in LA Ballet’s presentation of Giselle. The peasant protagonist falls in love with an unscrupulous prince. Jilted, she goes insane and dies of a weak heart.

When the wilis come to exact revenge and get the dead spirit of Giselle to join their forces, she instead fights for his pardon. Instead of becoming a tormenting spirit, she can rest in peace.

Forgiveness and love triumph over bitterness and hatred. In Giselle, I see something of a Christ figure. He loved us and we jilted Him. He died for our sin and wrought our deliverance from the punishment. I doubt the originator of the ballet intended this interpretation of the work, but, hey, I can’t help myself.

I’m a neophyte to ballet, only drawn in because my friend dances for the LA Ballet. Honestly, I didn’t expect much plot. I thought the storyline would be flimsy, an excuse for super athletes to dance. So Giselle blindsided me. I’m a literature guy and like a good story.

Hopefully, Los Angeles will catch the message. Maybe Giselle can restore marriages as people get persuaded that forgiveness and love can cover wrongs. Maybe Giselle can help end enmity. Maybe we can realize that “he who laughs last” doesn’t really laugh at all but shrivels up into a lifeless bitter blob. Maybe people can realize that we all need God’s forgiveness for our sins.

Photo credit: Via Society News LA

Goodbye, for now. Hello soon. (True friendship)

She left our school this year to move to the East Coast with her family. Goodbye.

She left our school this year to move to the East Coast with her family. Goodbye.

You never really say goodbye in Christianity.

One of the hardest things about ministry is when people leave because you love them.

But I’ve hung around long enough to see that Christian friends are true friends. I would venture to say that only Christian friends can be true friends. Because they offer a friendship that doesn’t die out through separation or adversity.

And yes, some friends we won’t see until Heaven.

Guatemala mission

With my longtime friends, Aparicio and Max, at the church we founded 20 years ago. Only in Christ does friendship last.

But on my trip to Guatemala, I’ve been reunited with friends, guys who helped form the church 20 years ago when I was a missionary here. We were great friends, comrades in the war for souls. And we still are great friends.

Starbucks is doomed. How can they survive this?

25 cents cup of coffee

A 25 cent cup of coffee in Gardiner. Once this spreads like wildfire, how will Starbucks survive the cutthroat competition?

Who will pay $5 a coffee when they’re offering the cup at 25 cents? LOL.

My car broke down in Yellowstone, so we are stranded in a little town I had never heard of: Gardiner. We’ll be here for a while, so our vacation destination has changed from the glorious, transcendent Mt. Rushmore to the quaint and picturesque Gardiner.

And look what I’ve already discovered! Coffee at 25 cents a cup. Beat that, Santa Monica!

I don’t know yet just how good the java is, but considering I’ve been drinking hotel coffee and instant coffee at our campsite, maybe it won’t be bad. (Actually I’m not the keenest coffee connoisseur. I recently bought a water filter to improve my home brew and could discern no difference from the the chlorine saturated version.)

Having owned my shortcomings, I wish to observe that we (Americans) squander great gobs of money on dubious needs. Meanwhile the call of the gospel languishes under-financed.

Love letter written in blood

Jesus whip wounds

To show their love, some give flowers, chocolates or a diamond ring. This is what Jesus gave.

A portal to hell

portal to hellJK. Actually this is an underground lava flow. This surface hole shows the underground tube.

God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. So don’t reject Him. Don’t choose an eternal destination apart from Him. He loves you.

God changes people

God's power to transform

This is the oft-overlooked part of the gospel. God changes people. I thank God I’m not the same, that my sin is not my identity. I’m so glad there is a Higher Power that can endow me with power to become what I want, a worthy servant of the Most High. Thank God for His effectual power to transform people.

Sometimes in the Bible, the transformation wrought was so revolutionary that God even changed the person’s name. Thus, Abraam became Abraham; Jacob, Israel; and Simon, Peter.

Image from Pinterest.

Keep it simple

simplicity
Sometimes we want to make the gospel complicated because we have worked so hard. We don’t want it to be easy for newcomers. We have fasted. We have fought the flesh. We have prayed all night. I did it, so you must do it.

But Paul (who did more than any of us) exhorts us to keep it simple. The gospel is simple: Believe in Jesus and be saved. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ. — 2 Cor. 11:3 KJV (caps mine).

Romans 10:9 similarly makes it simple: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (NIV).

It was the Pharisees and Jewish leaders who added rule upon rule, making it harder to get into Heaven. Considering they ultimately rejected Christ, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be like them. Some of us are going to be very surprised to see lots of people in Heaven, people we thought wouldn’t make it because they didn’t follow all our rules.

Simplicity is beautiful. Let’s not deprive the gospel of its beauty.

Beautiful feet

beautiful feet

Flashy fashion or walk worn. What’s your ideal of beautiful feet?

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. — Rom. 10:15 KJV. Paul evokes the messenger of antiquity who came running with news of military victory. With the coming of his feet, anxiety gave way to exhilaration. Good news brought great joy.

The spreading of the gospel is like news of victory. We didn’t stand a military chance against Satan and sin, but Jesus intervened and won us the war. With the news, there is great rejoicing.

The first carriers of the gospel walked long distances to break pagans out of the ignorance. Instead of paparazzi, they were met with stone-throwers. They sacrificed because the bore good news and hungered to share it.

Even today, there is much sacrifice to do to get the good word out.

The darker it gets…

light penetrates darkness

The darkness, as it grows, only serves to beautify the light. People will be drawn more and more naturally to the lighthouse under the gathering storm of godlessness. The more hopeless it becomes, the greater the need for hope.

Image

Beauty for ashes

beauty for ashesLest the light of the glorious gospel shine upon them. — 2 Cor. 4:4

The only Heaven some people will know

taste of HeavenThis world, as wonderful as it can be, offers only a taste of Heaven.

Because he didn’t die…

… he didn’t make the news, but the mailman who fought off his assailant was a great story.

from Dani Mejias

from Dani Mejias

I was an intern for the L.A. Herald Examiner. I observed the trail of blood that extended for about 15 yards on the sidewalk in South Central Los Angeles in 1988. The mail carrier was delivering General Relief checks, and some gang-bangers thought they could grab and forge. They shot him, and he bled, but he never surrendered his cargo. Instead, bleeding from the bullet wound, he fought them off. The story was incredible, but it never even made the newspaper because the mailman survived. Had he died, it would have gone viral (in age when there was no “viral”).

9-11News outlets thrive on bad news, so if it’s bad news that you want, just read the offerings of the world anywhere. But if you want “good” news, read the Gospels. Jesus forgives your sins, God promises wonderful things, the Spirit restores your family. Prayer connects you directly to Almighty Power.