Archives For Africa

The Briefing

Supreme Court hears pro-life and free speech case
On March 20, the Supreme Court will hear National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. The Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency (FACT) Act requires pregnancy facilities to post a disclosure to inform clients that “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care and abortion for eligible women,” according to the law.

WA to ‘monetize wombs,’ legalize ‘baby selling’
Washington state is set to legalize commercial surrogacy, a move children’s rights advocates say amounts to the selling of babies, bases the definition of a parent on “intent,” and opens avenues for child abuse and other horrors. On March 14, the Washington state House of Representatives passed the “Uniform Parentage Act.” As the bill stands, no limits are placed on how many children can be procured through surrogacy arrangements.

Turkey wants life imprisonment for US pastor
Turkish prosecutors demanded life imprisonment for jailed US pastor Andrew Brunson in an official indictment presented to Izmir’s 2nd Criminal Court on Tuesday. Arrested without bail since October 2016, the government of Turkey has detained Pastor Brunson largely based on a purported ‘secret witness’ and secret evidence, which they refuse to make public.

IMB missionaries retire to heaven
International Mission Board missionaries Randy and Kathy Arnett, 62 and 61, died March 14 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The missionaries served as theological education strategists for Africa.

‘I Can Only Imagine’ ranks 3rd with $17M
The faith-based film “I Can Only Imagine” brought in $17.1 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend, going far beyond early expectations and ranking third, behind “Tomb Raider” and “Black Panther.” The Christian-themed movie beat out Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” and a new film about a gay teenage romance, “Love, Simon.”

Sources: Fox News, Illinois Baptist, Christianity Today, The Christian Post (2), CBN

browniesTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

A new Barna study shows 70% of American adults (and 72% of Christians) are aware of the Lenten tradition of giving something up in order to draw closer to God. But only 17% plan to observe Lenten sacrifice this year. Here’s Barna’s list of what they’re giving up:

88% of adults plan to fast from food or drink:

  • Chocolate (30%)
  • Meat (28%)
  • Sugar (28%)
  • Soda drinks (26%)
  • Alcohol (24%)
  • Fruit (14%)
  • Butter or cream (11%)

31% will give up some form of technology:

  • Social networks (16%)
  • Smartphones (13%)
  • TV (11%)
  • Video games (10%)
  • Movies (9%)
  • Internet (9%)

Barna found the millenial generation (born after 1980) is the least likely to know about Lent, but millenials are more likely than other age groups to fast during the season. Read more at Barna.org.

Other news:

Prayer ‘more popular than ever’ says Reader’s Digest
“Organized religion may be losing members, but prayer is more popular than ever,” according to an article in the April issue of Reader’s Digest. The story points to research in the 2010 General Social Survey, which found 86% of Americans pray and 56.7% do so at least once a day. But how they’re praying may look different. Writer Lise Funderburg cites several examples of how the prayer umbrella is widening, including sidewalk chalk prayers outside a Presbyterian church in San Francisco, and the use of Twitter to start prayer movements like #pray4philippines.

The Illinois Baptist examined prayer and spiritual awakening in a January cover story. And Southern Baptist leaders have met together twice recently to pray for individual and corporate revival. Read more at BPNews.net.

Menlo Park Presbyterian leaves denomination over doctrinal, evangelistic differences
A San Francisco church “increasingly out of alignment” with their denomination has voted to sever ties with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Earlier this month, 93% of members at the 4,000-member Menlo Park Presbyterian approved the move, Baptist Press reports. The church, led by Pastor John Ortberg, has for years referred to itself as a “Jesus church,” according to a statement by church leaders. “We believe that God has expressed himself uniquely in his son Jesus, who lived, taught, died and rose again for our sakes.”

BP reports a 2011 survey of PCUSA pastors found only 41% agreed with the statement, “Only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.”

The decision will cost Menlo Park $9 million because the denomination owns its property. “This points to the fact that theology matters,” Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler said of the decision. “Keeping the faith is worth infinitely more than $9 million.” Read more at BPNews.net.

‘Son of God’ in top 5 over first two weekends
The movie built from last year’s “The Bible” miniseries was the second-highest grossing movie during its opening weekend, and fell to #5 after its second. Some had thought “Son of God” would reach the numbers posted by 2004’s “The Passion of Christ”, The Christian Post reports, but the new movie’s grosses so far aren’t half of what “The Passion” took in during its debut weekend. Read more at ChristianPost.com.

More Africa stories
Five volunteers from Illinois recently spent a week in Guinea, telling true stories from the Bible to people who had never heard them. For people in the West African nation to know Jesus, “it can only be a move of God,” said one mission volunteer. Read more about their team’s experiences in the current issue of the Illinois Baptist.

BIG_pic_0210HEARTLAND | It had been a long, frustrating boat ride.

Mark Emerson and Harold Booze were just off Africa’s west coast, trying to locate a people group everyone seemed familiar with, but no one could find. With evening approaching and no place to stay for the night, Emerson knew they needed to go back to Kamsar, the city they had left a few hours before.

Go to IBSA’s Facebook page for a slideshow from the trip.

“The crushing blow is, I’ve had to turn this boat around, and I haven’t gotten to give the Gospel to anyone,” he said.

Emerson and Booze had come to Guinea with three other Illinois Baptist pastors to share Bible stories with people in the mostly Muslim, largely illiterate country. The group had split up, each with a missionary guide and an interpreter, and each in search of people groups who haven’t yet been engaged with the Gospel.

On the boat, “I’m going to give the Gospel to somebody,” Emerson decided. Along with the boat captain, two other Guineans were also on board. Emerson started telling “every ship story of Jesus, one right after the other,” he said, laughing at the memory.

On a later visit to an historic village, the Americans took a turn as listeners, hearing the story of how the people had come to settle there. When they finished the detailed account, the villagers said, “You tell us a story.”

Emerson replied, “I’ve got a great one.”

The International Mission Board will host a Base Camp training conference March 28-29 at FBC, Woodlawn, Ill., for churches interested in engaging unreached people groups of Sub-Saharan Africa. E-mail MarkEmerson@IBSA.org for more information.

Mark Emerson, pictured here, and a team of four volunteers from Illinois spent a week in Guinea engaging people there with stories from the Bible.

Mark Emerson, pictured here, and a team of four volunteers from Illinois spent a week in Guinea engaging people there with stories from the Bible.

HEARTLAND | In Guinea on a short-term mission trip, Mark Emerson met his own version of the man from Macedonia (see Acts 16:9).

Emerson and fellow Illinois volunteer Harold Booze were waiting for a boat to take them and their missionary guide to share Bible stories with an unreached, unengaged people group. As they endured the six-hour wait, they met John, a soldier from a nearby village. When they told him where they were going and why, John asked, “Why are you passing by me?”

“So, on our return, we came back a day early to tell stories to him and his family,” Emerson said.

John was one of many Guineans who heard true stories from the Bible that week. Five volunteers from Illinois partnered with International Mission Board missionaries to locate and share with unreached people groups in the country. The mostly Muslim nation is largely non-literate; the people rely on stories to pass down their traditions and culture. In one historic village, the Americans listened first to the story of how the people had come to settle there. After detailing hundreds of years of their people group’s history – including specific names – the Guineans turned to the Americans and said, “You tell us a story.”

“I’ve got a great one,” Emerson said before launching into the account of the Good Samaritan.

The Bible stories were the group’s inroads into the villages, a way to begin building relationships so that missionaries and future teams can go back and keep sharing about Jesus. In a village where they stayed several days, the chief brought a sick child to them. After they prayed for him, the Muslim chief was so moved by the passion of their prayers that he took the group from place to place so they could pray for more people.

They met a man near death and prayed for him, that he would choose Jesus. Their missionary guide felt like they shouldn’t leave the room until they had given the man the Gospel, so, “I gave him the whole thing, the full-barrel Gospel,” Emerson said. The man didn’t turn to Christ, but the missionary encouraged Emerson and the other volunteers. “At least he had a choice.”

“My responsibility is to help people have a choice,” Emerson said once back in the U.S. “I didn’t win anybody to Jesus, but I got a whole lot of people closer.” Like the chief who told him, with his hand on his own chest, “God has designed us to know Him in our hearts.”