Thursday, January 31, 2008

Withdrawal of OMF from China

The following is the Appendix of the book “Under His Wings: The Life Story of Water and Helen Jespersen” by Agnus Lawless. It is an excellent article regarding the stability of the church in China even during the Communist takeover. Dr. Glasser writes as follows.

Withdrawal of OMF from China

Appendix A (pages 247-249) from, Under His Wings
By Arthur F. Glasser

Walter and Helen Jespersen left China almost a year and a half after Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) established the People's Republican October It, 1949. At that time, only a few missionaries remained) in China. They were either in jail, under house arrest, struggling to secure exit permits, or overlooked by Chinese officials because they were working in remote non-Chinese areas.

This was a far cry from 1926 when more than eight thousand Protestant missionaries in China had founded and subsidized schools, medical facilities, and emerging churches. Fortunately, the China Inland Mission established an indigenous church movement free from dependence on Western finance and direction. Even so, by 1965, the Communist authorities had seen to it that nothing of this Western presence remained. Not a single indigenous Chinese congregation was functioning. Most national Christians had gone underground to survive. Indeed, "the sufferings of this period have had few parallels in the entire history of the Christian Church" (Lambert 1994:25). Government terror against all religious activity lessened in 1976, following Mao's death. Then began the ''undreamed of reversal of government policy toward religion," even though the government retained exclusive authority over all centers of political, financial, and social control.

This strange paradox continues - the Communist control of China and the amazing turning of many Chinese people to Christ. First, the failure of Mao's vision destroyed people's faith in Maoism. Then into this unprecedented situation, "the deeply personal experience of the Christian faith enabled many Christians to reach out in love to their neighbors. Freed from Western forms and traditions, the Christian message in its biblical simplicity took on new life and meaning, as it was spread by the lives and words of ordinary Christians" (1994:19). Today this evangelical movement far exceeds in sheer size almost every other comparable movement in a major country in the world with the possible exception of the United States (1994:289). And yet China's political leaders continue to treat this movement with hostility, imprisonment, even violence.

When will this period of protracted suffering for religious reasons finally end? Scripture predicts an unprecedented response to the Christian faith prior to Christ's second coming. The harvest will take place in all parts of the world (see Joel 2:32; Matt. 24:14; Luke 12:3637; James 5:7-8; Rev. 7:9) despite what Satan and his human cohorts do to prevent such gatherings.

While scholars have been writing on the resurrection of the Christian movement and its subsequent amazing growth particularly after 1976, a wonderful resurrection also took place within the China Inland Mission following its total exodus from China in 1951. After the homeside rehabilitation of many younger members, couples like the Jespersens could not believe that their missionary service had ended. Most were reluctant to close down the worldwide fellowship and structure of the CIM. They soon raised questions: "China has been closed to us. But why should not our leaders call us to move out to other unevangelized areas in the world? Surely, God wants us to utilize the experience we gained over the years' in China." This growing concern led to much prayer and discussion. God began to draw their leaders to reflect on East Asians-among the least evangelized people in the world-and the Overseas Missionary Fellowship was formed "to glorify God by the urgent evangelization of East Asia's millions."

In contrast to China's 1.3 billion (20 to 50 percent Buddhists), East Asians constitute almost one billion (50 to 90 percent) Buddhists and exist in two thousand separate unreached people groups. Quite naturally, the Jespersens responded to this new opportunity to serve the Lord. Largely for Helen's health, their new assignment was not in East Asia but in western Canada and the northwestern states of the U.S. as representatives of the OMP.

In spite of persecution, the phenomenal growth of Christians in China largely dominated Jespersens' thoughts and prayers. But what seemed most significant were increasing reports of a missionary concern among young, recently converted Chinese Christians. Moreover, about 60 million Chinese were scattered in more than sixty countries around the world. At present, "about 10 percent of the 170,000 Chinese scholars currently residing in North America have become Christians," and "by 1998 there were at least 8,000 Chinese churches in more than 50 countries of the world" (Perspectives 1999: #93 Wang/Chan, pp. 641-645).

Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2030, China will become a superpower. Then follows the growing vision of not a few Chinese Christian scholars: "Shall we dare to believe that someday China may become a Christian nation?" They expect that China will have ideological pluralism and religious freedom and are urging their fellow Christians even now to "prepare for that day when China relaxes all restrictions on religious activities and opens its door for missionaries-both to be received and to be sent to the rest of the world" (641-645).
Has the Christian movement within the largest segment of the human race at long last come of age despite unimaginable suffering? Is its task now to call all God's people to follow fully the example of Jesus Christ and with him to carry to completion his missionary purpose?

This brings us back to the Jespersens. Their story includes unwavering loyalty to Christ, unquestioning acceptance of his Word, much patience and perseverance in prayer- and faith - and always the willingness, despite suffering, to face the cross and embrace its implications fully. Do we not all need a fresh release from self-serving materialism and a renewed determination to do the will of God and to love our neighbors as ourselves? Thank God for Walter and Helen's consistent example of missionary obedience and their genuine love of all neighbors. And let us never forget that we live in demanding days, with always the prospect of ultimate expectations tomorrow.

Arthur F. Glasser
Overseas Missionary Fellowship

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reaching Children with Leprosy and Others in Jail

Several years ago in Olongapo, Philippines (then referred to by Filipinos as Sin City), Ron Homenuke (ACTION Canada missionary to street children) took Mike Watters (ACTION missionary) and me to visit Rodney, a boy of 13 who trusted Christ the week before at an ACTION camp for 68 underprivileged children (54 indicated they trusted Christ!). Rodney has leprosy, and it was really sad to see the filthy 3-room home (under an old staircase) he lives in with his mother, her live-in partner, and 3 other brothers and sisters! I encouraged the mother to do all she could do concerning cleanliness and then expressed the importance of inner cleansing through the blood of Christ! Mike and I then prayed for the children, as well as the mother and boyfriend.

We then briefly visited a government center for about 70 children (ages 3 to 17). Ron usually ministers in the center twice weekly. The children saw us coming and began to shout Ron’s name. When the main gate was unlocked and we stepped in, the children overcome with excitement jumped all over us, all wanting to be touched and hugged! As we left about 30 minutes later, each of us had to take kids off our backs, shoulders and legs, children who were holding on to us to the last moment. I was the last to exit. As I stepped outside the gate, it was shut and locked. I turned to say goodbye especially to a little ugly boy with many sores on his face and body, runny nose, and oh so dirty! I put my hand through the bars of the gate and he grabbed on for one last squeeze. By the time I reached our van, I was crying. “Dear loving Father,” I began to pray, “please have mercy on that scar-faced little boy. Bring him to salvation through your Son, the Lord Jesus. Help him to respond to the Gospel which he has heard through Ron. Please care for all these abandoned children for Your Word says, ‘for in You the orphan finds mercy’.”

Pray for more missionaries to work with Ron, other missionaries and Filipino churches to take the Gospel and compassionate care to the thousands of needy, sick, dying and lonely children of the Philippines to the glory of God!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rock or Pebbles

TO: Notes from the Founder
FM: Doug Nichols
RE: Rock or Pebbles?
SENT: May 11, 2007

The writer of the book of Hebrews instructs us to, “…consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:25, NASB). The apostle Paul encouraged churches to trust and serve God, to give generously, and to be faithful by giving examples of what other churches were doing. Perhaps we should follow his example.

I would like, therefore, to make a small attempt at this by giving the example of a church here in Manila, Philippines which may stimulate you to consider doing the same (or similar actions) in your church -- not just to copy another church -- but to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ for His glory.

Higher Rock or just pebbles?

Higher Rock Christian Church is a fellowship of about 300 members in Metro Manila, Philippines. It rents facilities in an office complex on a main road surrounded by bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. It is the main church in a small denomination (Communion of Christian Ministries) with a huge impact throughout the Philippines.

Of the many wonderful characteristics of this church, let me mention three things that really stand out to my wife Margaret and me:

1. Preaching/teaching. The pastors, elders and leaders really labor hard at expositional preaching and teaching the whole counsel and Word of God. The church members respond by each bringing and using their Bibles. Most seem to have a tremendous grasp of the major doctrines (teachings) of God’s Word. The pastors really strive to make the “main things the plain things” so all understand. Preaching the Word takes time! Short exhortations of 6 to 10 minutes from the Word are given at the beginning of each Sunday service by elders and leaders and then prayer) with the main exposition (sermon/message) being given later by the pastor of 50 to 60 minutes!

2. Music. When I have spoken in the church, every hymn and spiritual song has been right on, not only with a beautiful melody (and easy to sing together) but also true to the Word of God. As I travel worldwide in ministry, much “worship time” in churches is singing songs that have a catchy or emotionally-tuned for feeling but have absolutely no true uplifting, biblical truth. This is not so with what is sung by the Higher Rock Church of Manila. I asked how they were able to have such wonderful and beautiful hymns and songs each service. The answer was “hard work and strict adherence to their worship guidelines.” These simple guidelines are used to measure all that is sung by the worship team (choir) and congregation.

These are:
a. Each hymn/spiritual song must magnify the Lord Jesus Christ, not self; the emphasis to be on Christ, not an emotional feeling.
b. Each is to be true to the Word of God (doctrinally sound).
c. The music is not to be worldly sounding (not to cater to the flesh), in which one would mainly want to dance.

3. Discipleship. Most everyone in the church are either being discipled in the Word of God or discipling (teaching) others. All of the pastors, elders, leaders (and their wives!) or working with, helping and training others in the things of God. The senior pastor’s wife is very busy with four teenage children and is also discipling several women as well as working with other wives of church leaders in women’s ministry of the church. (The church is especially noted for its effective ministry to women led by the women). There is a strong discipleship program (of real depth) to all ages in the church throughout the week.

So dear friends, does this encourage you to work on these three items in your church fellowship? Perhaps you can do nothing about the preaching, but you can help improve the music and especially discipleship!

So let’s build our lives and churches on the Rock (obedience to Christ) and not pebbles of sand.


Sincerely in Christ,

Doug Nichols

Discussion Regarding Worship Songs

To: Notes from the Founder
From: Doug Nichols (as) Founder & International Director Emeritus
Sent: 1/24/08
Re: Discussion Regarding Worship Songs

Dear Friends,

Since my brief article, “Rocks and Pebbles”, I have received several e-mails asking for more information about Higher Rock Church and how they choose their worship songs. The following is a brief e-mail to me from one of the young ladies on the Worship Team. They have certain standards they meet in choosing any song. I thought you might be interested in reading this. Whether you agree or not, it gives us something to think about in the way we choose our music for worship.

In Christ,
Doug Nichols

Worship-Song Line-Up
By Rosette Koswardi

When we select worship songs to be included in the line-up, we must always consider what the apostle Paul tells us in Col.3:16, that the Word of Christ dwells richly within us with all wisdom when we teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We must endeavor to recover the authority of Scripture in our worship and in our music for it is fundamental to a true God-centered worship. In other words, song selections could fall under one of three biblical categories: (1) "teaching"; (2) "admonition"; and (3) "singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

Quoting from an article written by Rebecca Watters, "Music is very powerful because it teaches whether or not we perceive that it does. And tile more a person is inclined to subjective, relativistic thinking, the stronger music's influence will be on that person. It is therefore a potent purveyor of heresies. How then should pastors and church music directors, who seriously take their biblical mandate, evaluate the music the church uses in worship? By applying the regulative principle of Sola Scriptura .... True worship is faithful to the doctrine of God as revealed in Scripture ... Kim Riddlebarger argues: 'This is not to say that worship is not to be emotional or that one is not to experience God during worship, but worship must be based on correct knowledge of God, not an ecstatic experience of God ... '"

In biblical worship, we must examine three aspects if we are to bring the music in line with Scripture: 1) the words that we sing, 2) the melodies of the words we sing, and 3) the instruments we use to accompany the singing. We will just take the first 2 aspects which is significant to song choices in our worship.

The first aspect- the content of the songs of the church must be doctrinally sound.

We who belong to the Higher Rock Christian Church Worship Team strives to be very careful with the lyrics contained in a song choice. They must teach biblical principles that adhere to the whole counsel of God. Mrs. Watters presented an example in her article of a song commonly used by churches that does not present clear biblical teaching. Consider this song:

Jesus, we enthrone You.
We proclaim You are King. Standing here in the midst of us. We lift You up with our praise.
And as we worship, build Your throne. Come, Lord Jesus, And take Your place.

Ephesians 1: 19-22 clearly teaches that God, "the Father of glory" (v. I?), raised Jesus from the dead, "and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion ... " who then enthrones Christ? Is it us of the Father?

The content of the songs must be God-centered and not man-centered. Consider this example:

All my hopes, all of my plans,
my heart and my hands are lifted to You. Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I've been through
Use it for Your glory
Lord, I offer my days to You Lifting my praise to You
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord, I offer You my life.

The purpose of music in worship is to assist the congregation in worshiping God, not to encourage believers to focus on themselves ... The songs must handle accurately the word of truth.

The second aspect is evaluating the melodies to which we sing the words. While it is important that a melody is singable for the congregation, it must likewise support the content of the song ... Determining the appropriateness of the melody must also pass through another sieve: does it 'make provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts?' Does the melody truly exalt God or does it appeal primarily to the carnal tastes of man and his desire to be entertained?"

These are some considerations when selecting songs in a worship line-up. The Book of Psalms has given us a model for what we are to sing. They contain a very rich variety of songs that we can and should sing to God- joyful praise and thanksgiving (ps. 146-150); reflections on creation (ps. 19, 104); a recounting of the saving work of God in Christ (ps. 2, 22, 24 and 110) and meditations on God's Word (ps. 119). There are also psalms of lamentation and repentance (ps. 32,51, and 137). We also bring back the hymns that are predominantly based on Scriptural passages.

I hope the above can help for the moment. We will be giving Mr. Nichols a copy of Faith Walk Digest that features True Worship - which include articles on The "Reformation of Worship", "How Shall we Sing to God?", and "The Music of Worship-Pleasing God or Pleasing Ourselves?"


“Worship-Song Line-Ups” by Rosette Koswardi. Higher Rock Church. 2007 (highrock@skyinet.net)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Human Trafficking Statistics

To: ACTION E-News # 372
From: Doug Nichols/ds
Re: Human Trafficking Statistics
Date: January 24, 2008

The following are statistics from Make Way Partners for your information:

Human Trafficking Statistics
Make Way Partners, January 2008

-There are at least 30 million victims of modern day slavery in the world today (US Trafficking in Persons Report).

-Each year it is estimated that there are 1 million new victims of human trafficking (The US Department of State).

-Estimates as high as 80% of trafficking victims are women and over - 50% in slavery are children (US Government).

-Human Trafficking generates approximately $9.5 billion each year. It is second only to drug trafficking in international crime (US Trafficking in Persons Report).

-“…Experts say that at any given time, some 2.5 million people are being trafficked …” (http://www.makewaypartners.org/effects.html)

-The USA is the number one country of destination for trafficked victims. The land of the free and the brave has become the receiving country for sex-slaves and forced manual workers. Run-away or kidnapped children are also sold and exploited within our borders and Internet child pornography or solicitation is thriving. (http://www.makewaypartners.org/effects.html)

-A child goes missing every 40 seconds in the USA.
That is more than 2,000 a day and more than 800,000 every year.
Another estimated 500,000 disappear without being reported.
For most, these bodies are never found.
What happens to them? (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

-Rising tide of human trafficking by Americans against other Americans - between 1.3 and 2.8 million runaways and homeless youths living on America's streets are one of the most at risk populations for exploitation. (PR Newswire)

-1 in 7 teenagers in the USA run away from home. Living on the streets, one out of every three teens will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. And the longer they are gone, the more likely they are to engage in "survival sex." After three months away from home, 90 percent of children will turn to sex. (National Incidence Studies of Missing, Runaway and Throwaway Children)

All of these statistics are from May Way Partners, January 16, 2008

Make Way Partners
PO Box 26367
Birmingham, AL 35260

audreyw@makewaypartners.org
Phone: 205-240-8597

Awesome Author: Charles Hadden Spurgeon


Charles Hadden Spurgeon [1834 -1892], is called the “Prince of Preachers” because of his God-honoring, life-transforming preaching. In a day that lacked the electronic amplification we have, he preached to “standing room only” congregations of over 6000 people. His impact upon preaching and preachers continues to this day. He once said, “I beseech you to not only live for this age, but to live for the next also, I would fling my shadow through the eternal ages if I could.” His shadow has been cast and by God’s grace falls upon us in the 21st century. Through his sermons and teachings, preserved in numerous books and devotionals, his passion for the glory of Christ and his love for his Word is still building faith in the lives of Christian believers today. Here are his words:

Bible: A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t. The key to victory is, “It is written.”

Truth: There is something told me in the Bible- told me for certain- not put before me with a “but” and a “perhaps” and an “if” and a “maybe,” and fifty thousand suspicions behind it, so that the long and short of it is that it may not be so at all; but revealed to me as infallible fact, which must be believed, the opposite of which is deadly error and comes from the father of lies.

Promise: He who makes the promise will find out the ways and means of keeping it. It is mine to obey His commands; it is not mine to direct His counsels. I am a servant, not His solicitor. I call upon Him, and he will deliver me.

Peace: It is safer for a believer to lie down in peace than to sit up and worry.
Success: If I go upon the Lord’s errand with a simple reliance upon his power and a single eye to his glory, it is certain that he will be with me. His sending me binds Him to back me up. Is it not enough? What more can I want? If all the angels and arch angels were with me, I might fail but if He is with me, I must succeed.

Election: “It’s a good thing that God chose me before I was born, because he surely would not have afterwards!”

Preaching: If you look down into a well, if it be empty it will appear very deep, but if there be water in it you will see its brightness. I believe that many “deep” preachers are simply so because they are like dry wells with nothing whatever in them, except decaying leaves, a few stones, and perhaps a dead cat or two. If there be living water in your preaching it may be very deep, but the light of truth will give clearness to it.

Stewardship: Spurgeon was once invited by a rich man to come to his country church to help raise funds to pay off the church’s debts. The man told Spurgeon that he could stay at one of his country estates. Spurgeon responded, “Sell one of the places and pay off the debt yourself.”
Assurance: Spurgeon once expressed his assurance of salvation in this way. He said that he could grab on to a cornstalk and swing out over the fires of hell, look down into the face of the devil, and sing, “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine!”