Christians face persecution in many countries today, especially North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran. According to some estimates, about 100 million christians face persecution, far more than any other religious group.
Right now, two people need our support.
Asia is a christian woman, wife and mother of two children. She has been imprisoned in Pakistan for several years because she professed faith in Jesus. Voice of the Martyrs is seeking signatures on a petition in her support. Perhaps you would like to sign, perhaps post a link on your own website or blog. Here is a video outlining her need.
Youcef is an Iranian pastor under imminent threat of execution because he converted to christianity. Voice of the Martyrs and other groups are calling for prayer and representations to be made on his behalf, though the link to find out more doesn’t seem to work.
A recent survey of American religion reveals some interesting facts
Robert Putnam (Harvard) and David Campbell (Notre Dame) undertook extensive research of religious attitudes in the US, and late last year published the results of their research in American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen an outline of their findings and an interview with David Campbell.
Last weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald carried two opinion pieces on greed, ethics and a “broken” western society that presented a disturbing picture.
Felicity Dale at Simply Church has posted some interesting accounts in Does prayer make a difference? Two groups of christians prayed for non-believers, with very striking results:
- A church in the US identified 160 homes, and prayed for 80 of them for 90 days. Then they approached all homes with the offer to visit and pray for them. Only one in the “not prayed for” group accepted the offer, but 69 out of 80 homes that were prayed for responded positively.
- Christians in India picked two villages and prayed for one. When they visited both villages they were thrown out of the village they didn’t pray for but made many converts in the village they did pray for.
I have a few difficulties about praying for one group and not another, though I guess they can at least rectify this following the experiment. And I certainly don’t think we can use these examples to “prove” that prayer works. (In fact, as you can see at Intercessory prayer and healing properly scientific studies of prayer show only moderately positive results.)
But I think we can see these accounts as a great encouragement to pray. We all believe in prayer and know we should pray more, but as TS Eliot said:
“Between the idea, and the reality ….. falls the shadow.”
A month ago I pondered why so many christians appear unwilling to accept the broad consensus of reputable climate scientists that human-induced global warning is a serious threat to the earth.
I have now come across some information that suggests that christians are not doing their homework, but are believing things told to them by people who are presenting misleading information, perhaps for dishonest reasons.
A strong statement? Read on!
If you attend a church, here is an interesting exercise. Think about your church’s regular services and its “outreach” activities. Do you try to make your services attractive to outsiders? Are the “outreach” activities held on church property? How many activities (whether evangelism or community service) are located in the community?
I want to suggest to you that your answers to these questions may give some clues as to why church attendances have generally fallen in recent years.
The church in the western world is losing numbers and influence. Should we christians be worried?
Is church as we know it important? And if so, why?
Last post I looked at some statistics on church attendance, which has been declining in recent years in many countries. This is just a brief aside to reference a post on the Christian CADRE blog suggesting that while churches may be losing numbers, these people are not going over to atheism, at least not in the US.
It seems that people who leave churches either keep on following Jesus, probably more seriously than they did before, or else they hold to some religious beliefs, probably in a less formal way.
The church as an institution is losing ground in the western world. Most of us are pretty familiar with that. But what is its future? And what is the future of belief in God?
There are some interesting statistics on all this.