PMT 2017-077 by Grant Wyeth (The Diplomat)
In early June, the Samoan Parliament passed a bill amending the constitution to transform the country from a secular to a Christian state. The objective of the amendment was “to insert in the Constitution that Samoa is a Christian nation to declare the dominance of Christianity in Samoa.” Of the Parliament’s 49 representatives, 43 voted in favor of the bill.
Samoa already had a reference to Christianity in the preamble to its Constitution, which declared that the Samoan government should conduct itself “within the limits prescribed by God’s commandments,” and that Samoan society is “based on Christian principles.” This kind of wording is common in the preambles of constitutions among Pacific Island states (the exception being Fiji). Continue reading
PMT 2017-012 by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (Christianity Today)
After 32 cases, lawmakers review Yarovaya restrictions on religion. Top courts could follow.
One Sunday morning in August, three policemen came to Don Ossewaarde’s home in Russia, where the Baptist missionary from Illinois was holding his weekly Bible study.
“Afterwards, they took me to the police station and charged me with conducting missionary activities in violation of a new law that took effect on July 20, 2016,” Ossewaarde wrote. “At a court hearing, I was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of 40,000 rubles, which is over $600.” Continue reading
PMT 2017-011 by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
(From the Auila Report)
With more than 16,000 students, Universitas Pelita Harapan is one of the largest Reformed Christian universities in the world. Started just 22 years ago, the university offers a law school, medical school, engineering school, and teachers college—all from a distinctly Reformed worldview.
“We don’t even have that in the United States or Europe,” said Ric Cannada, chancellor emeritus for Reformed Theological Seminary. “Here it is in Indonesia. Isn’t it just like the Lord to do something like this in the least likely place—the country with the largest Muslim population in the world?”
Though Christians compose only 10 percent of Indonesia’s population, the nation is so populous that roughly 25 million Christians live there. About one-third are Catholic, while the Protestants are typically either Pentecostal or Reformed—as in, really Reformed. Continue reading
PMT 2016-090 by Jeremy Weber in Christianity Today
Gentry note: Christianity is experiencing growth in many unexpected parts of the world. Let’s pray for its continued growth and its growth into Reformed maturity.
The world’s most unexpected megachurch pastor might be an illiterate, barefoot father of five.
Bhagwana Lal grows maize and raises goats on a hilltop in Rajasthan, India’s largest state, famous for its supply of marble that graces the Taj Mahal. He belongs to the tribals: the cultural group below the Dalits, whose members are literally outcasts from India’s caste system (and often called “thumb signers” because of how they vote).
Yet every Sunday, his one-room church, with cheerful blue windows and ceiling fans barely six feet off the ground, pulls in 2,000 people. His indigenous congregation draws from local farmers, whose families’ members take turns attending so that someone is tending the family’s animals. The cracks in the church’s white outer walls are a source of pride: They mark the three times the building has been expanded. Continue reading
PMT 2016-043 by David Garrison
(Ken Gentry: The following article by church historian David Garrison, Ph.D., was published in The Aquila Report (June 7, 2016). It contains encouraging research regarding Muslim conversions, which would fit postmillennial long-term expectations.)
Ten-year-old Nadia wasn’t surprised when her father signed her marriage contract, nor when she had to move in with her 20-year-old husband two years later. Nadia’s experience is not unusual in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It also wasn’t out of the ordinary when her husband became an opium addict (Iran has the highest rate of drug addiction in the world). Two of Nadia’s brothers also succumbed to drugs. One was sentenced to prison for killing a man in a drug-related dispute, the other committed suicide. One day Nadia’s cousin who had recently become a Christian quietly gave her a New Testament in the Persian language.
Nadia prayed, ‘Allah, show me your truth.’ As she read it, Nadia said, ‘I felt my heart open like an old door. Inside I felt very warm and thirsty. It was like drinking cool water, and I wanted to drink it all.
‘From that time on,’ Nadia recalls, ‘Jesus’ work started in me. It was a strange happiness like nothing I’d ever known.’ Within a week she’d led her husband and three children to faith in Jesus. Continue reading
PMT 2016-035 by Robert Ward
Should the influence of Christian values be consigned to the history books? This was the question posed to former Prime Minister John Howard by Eternity recently.
In a wide-ranging response, Howard stood firm on his credentials as a person of faith himself, while recognising that arguments today had to be made that appealed to the whole community, not just to those who shared a Christian worldview.
Identifying Judaeo-Christian values as the “greatest shaper, morally and ethically, of today’s Australia”, Howard argued that while we owe much to such institutions as the United Nations and documents like our constitution, we can trace much of what we value back to the teachings of Jesus. For instance, the appropriate separation of church and state, where he made it clear: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Continue reading