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The Briefing

China to rewrite Bible, force churches to sing Communist anthems
The Chinese government is supervising a 5-year plan to make Christianity more compatible with socialism. These plans include a “rewrite” of the Bible, singing Communist songs before worship in churches, and including pictures of Communist leaders inside church buildings. China’s crackdown on religion has seen many house churches demolished and represents the highest degree of persecution for independent faith groups the country has seen in decades, The Christian Post reports.

Bible translators complete 1,000th translation
Wycliffe Bible Translators completed its 1,000th full translation of the Bible in South Sudan. The major milestone was achieved in August, though accounts for only 10% of the world’s languages. Some of the remaining 90% have incomplete translated Bibles at various stages, but an ambitious project hopes to have Bible translation efforts underway in every language of the world by 2025.

IMB transitions from Platt to Meador
International Mission Board trustees heard a final address from outgoing president David Platt and approved Clyde Meador as interim president during their Sept. 26-27 meeting near Richmond, Va. Trustees also appointed 66 new fully funded personnel to take the gospel to unreached people and places.

Black men reverse gender split on religion
A study by the Pew Research Center released Sept. 26 found that while black men are less religious than black women, they are more religious than white women and white men. Hispanic women are equally as likely as African-American men to be what Pew considers “highly religious,” followed by white women, then Hispanic men. White men trail in last place with less than half being “highly religious.”

New Jersey schools usurp parents on guidelines for transgender students
New Jersey’s Department of Education has instructed schools to use the preferred names and pronouns of transgender students without the need for parental consent. In keeping with a state policy signed into law last year, schools must also give students access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers that match their gender identity, not their sex. 

Sources: Christian Post (3), Baptist Press, Religion News

 

hands patterned with the US flag

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the National Day of Prayer. Many of us pray for America on a regular basis, but each time this year, we are able to join together across the nation and pray together in unity.

Whether you are joining a prayer gathering for the event or praying on your own throughout the year, here are some ways you can pray for America.

1. #PRAY4UNITY in America.

“Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

The present spiritual crisis in America is calling us to pray for and take all necessary actions to come together in our nation. God is the only One who can do this, so we call upon Him to empower us to make every effort to live in unity.

2. #PRAY4UNITY in the church of America.

“Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

God is calling His Church in America to unify upon the authority of the Bible and centrality of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world. We must come together to make Christ known to the world by advancing the Gospel to every person in the world. Ask God for local churches to unify as one body of Christ and walk together in unity, harmony and oneness.

3. #PRAY4UNITY in the families, workplaces, communities and cities in America.

“Also, the power of God was at work in Judah to unite them to carry out the command of the king and his officials by the word of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:12).

God’s power upon us is the only source to unite our families, workplaces, communities and cities in America. Ask God to call families, workplaces, communities and cities to look to the only One who can unify us.

4. #PRAY4UNITY among all ethnicities and people in America.

“For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

Since each of us are made in the image of God, we bear His image regardless of the color of our skin or uniqueness of our ethnicity. Through the death of Jesus, He has torn down the wall of division among all people. In God alone, we unify and live in peace with one another, standing against all racial and ethnic division, denouncing it as sin.

5. #PRAY4UNITY for the security of our nation and for our schools, churches, and all public venues.

“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Ask God to protect our schools, churches and all public venues. Plead with God to restrain all evil and secure our nation from all enemies. Ask God to move upon our government officials to work together to secure our schools, churches and all public venues.

6. #PRAY4UNITY that we agree clearly, unite visibly and pray extraordinarily for the next great spiritual awakening in America.

“They all were continually united in prayer” (Acts 1:14).

Ask God to convict the church of America to wake up spiritually, unite visibly and pray extraordinarily for the next Great Spiritual Awakening in America to occur in our generation and shape the future of America.

EDITOR’S NOTE: May 3 is the National Day of Prayer.

Ronnie Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and president of the National Day of Prayer. This article first appeared at LifeWay’s Facts&Trends (factsandtrends.net).

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

New International Mission Board President David Platt said his head was “still kind of spinning” the morning after his Aug. 27 election by IMB trustees. “It’s good, though,” he told IMB global correspondent Erich Bridges. Their interview touched on mobilizing the next generation of missionaries, and the value of traditional Christian institutions in penetrating spiritual lostness.

“That’s the beauty in what God has created, even in the Southern Baptist Convention on a large scale – 40,000-plus churches working together, and the IMB keeping that coalition focused on reaching unreached peoples with the Gospel. The key is [building] strategies and structures and systems that help fuel a movement, that don’t inhibit the movement or cause churches to abdicate their responsibility in mission.”

Chicagoland pastors, planters share ministry challenges with SBC leaders
Frank Page
, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, was in Chicago last month for two “listening sessions” with leaders where the discussions touched on church size, diversity, church planting, and the challenges of urban ministry. Read the story from the Illinois Baptist here.

Seminary eyes new campus, new name
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has signed a purchase agreement for its new campus in southern California, President Jeff Iorg announced in August. The school, currently located in Mill Valley near San Francisco, plans to relocate to the 153,000-sq.-foot building and adjoining property in Ontario, Ca., by June 2016.

Iorg also said the seminary will request that the Southern Baptist Convention approve a new name—Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. “The new name connects to our heritage, frees us from geographic designations, allows for developing a more global identity, and acknowledges our Baptist distinctive.”

Pastors call Driscoll to step down
Nine pastors at Mars Hills Church have called for Pastor Mark Driscoll to step down from ministry for a year in the wake of charges of verbal abuse and ungodly leadership. A 4,000-word letter from the pastors was circulated two days before Driscoll announced he would take a six-week leave of absence while the charges were investigated, Christianity Today reported.

In reponse to the letter, which was leaked online, a newly formed Board of Elders for Mars Hill responded with their own message to Mars Hill members, asking them not to “react in fear or anxiety” or “pronounce judgment before the time.” Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

Barna studies Christians and public schools
New research from Barna found 95% of Protestant pastors believe Christians should be involved in helping public schools, and more than 8-in-10 church-going Christians agree. While 65% of people who regularly volunteer at public schools are church attenders, Barna said, there are some factors holding Christians back. 44% say they don’t have children in public school, 18% don’t think public schools want religious people to help, and 17% are unsure how to help.