Growing number of Americans love Jesus but don’t go to church, Barna finds

April 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Church, newsletter-lead

U.S., April 02, 2017: While an increasing number of Americans are reportedly abandoning the institutional church and its defined boundary markers of religious identity, many Americans still believe in God and practice faith outside its walls, a new Barna study has found.

Barna has released a report on the first of a two-part exploration of faith and spirituality outside the church, looking at the “fascinating segment of the American population who, as the saying goes, ‘love Jesus but not the church.'”

One-tenth of the population comprises those who self-identify as Christian and who strongly agree that their religious faith is very important in their life, but are “dechurched,” meaning they have attended church in the past, but haven’t done so in the last six months or more, the Barna study says, adding that only seven percent of the population belonged to this category in 2004.

More than 60 percent of the people in this group are women, and 80 percent are not millennials, between the ages of 33 and 70.

“This group also appears to be mostly white (63%) and concentrated in the South (33%), Midwest (30%) and West (25%), with very few hailing from the Northeast (13%),” the study reveals.

“This group represents an important and growing avenue of ministry for churches,” says Roxanne Stone, editor in chief of Barna Group. “Particularly if you live in a more churched area of the country, it’s more than likely you have a significant number of these disaffected Christians in your neighborhoods. They still love Jesus, still believe in Scripture and most of the tenets of their Christian faith. But they have lost faith in the church.”

What’s more, their beliefs about God are more orthodox than the general population, even rivaling their church-going counterparts, the study shows.

“For instance, they strongly believe there is only one God (93% compared to U.S. adults: 59% and practicing Christians: 90%); affirm that ‘God is the all-powerful, all- knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today’ (94% compared to U.S. adults: 57% and practicing Christians: 85%); and strongly agree that God is everywhere (95% compared to U.S. adults: 65% and practicing Christians: 92%).”

Furthermore, while they might not be comfortable with the church, this group still maintains a very positive view of religion, the study adds.

“When asked whether they believe religion is mostly harmful, their response once again stood out from the general population, and aligned with their church-going counterparts (71% strongly disagree, compared to 71% among practicing Christians and 48% among U.S adults).”

However, only 55 percent disagree, either strongly or somewhat, that all religions basically teach the same thing, much closer to the general population at 51 percent. Eighty-six percent of evangelicals disagree with the statement and believe in the distinctiveness of Christianity.

The study notes that this group falls outside of the characterization of “spiritual but not religious” folks. “But unlike practicing Christians and evangelicals, this spirituality is deeply personal—even private—with many preferring to keep spiritual matters to themselves: only two in five (18%) say they talk with their friends about spiritual matters often.”

For the study, Barna interviewed 1,281 U.S. adults via web-based surveys, in each of the 50 United States between November 4 and 15, 2016. The sampling error for this study is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level.

“The critical message that churches need to offer this group is a reason for churches to exist at all,” Stone concludes. “What is it that the church can offer their faith that they can’t get on their own? Churches need to be able to say to these people—and to answer for themselves—that there is a unique way you can find God only in church. And that faith does not survive or thrive in solitude.”

– christian post

Greg Laurie brought to tears by Lee Strobel’s ‘The Case for Christ,’ urges atheists to see it

March 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Church, newsletter-lead, Persecution

U.S., March 17, 2017: Megachurch pastor Greg Laurie recently interviewed former atheist Lee Strobel and his wife, Leslie, and said that he was brought to tears when watching their story of faith in “The Case for Christ” film.

Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, called the upcoming movie, which is based on the book of the same name, “fantastic” and believes it will be a powerful tool to reach non-Christians.

“I have to say, this is the movie you have been waiting on to take your nonbelieving friend to, especially if your friend happens to be an atheist,” Laurie told the Harvest audience.

The film, which is due to be released on the big screen on April 7, is based on the true story of Strobel, played by actor Mike Vogel, and his investigative journey into the historical evidence surrounding Jesus.

After his wife’s conversion to Christianity, Strobel, a journalist with the Chicago Tribune at the time, sets out to disprove Christianity, which strains his marriage and causes great internal struggle. But after an intense investigation lasting nearly two years, the evidence points to “the truth of Jesus Christ” and he accepts Christ as his savior.

Lee Strobel admitted in the interview with Laurie that one of the main reasons he initially was resistant to his wife’s new-found faith was jealousy.

“I got jealous of Jesus, I felt like there was another man in our marriage,” he admitted.

“I felt like she was cheating on me; she’s got this emotional support she’s getting from this Jesus guy.”

Leslie Strobel shared part of her own struggle, revealing that she felt she could share anything with her husband, other than her faith in Christ.

“What I did find out over time is that the best way to reach him was to continue to let God grow me,” she said.

She told Laurie that she began praying a specific verse for her husband, namely Ezekiel 36:26, which reads:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart, I will put a new spirit within you, and I will take your heart of stone, and turn it into a heart of flesh.”

“Once I heard that verse, I prayed it daily and daily, and that’s when I started seeing his willingness to at least crack the door open a little bit and look,” she said.

Laurie showed clips from the movie to the audience, and when talking about the moment Strobel turned to faith in Jesus Christ, he called it “one of the most powerful moments, it brought me to tears.”

Leslie Strobel said of her husband’s conversion: “There was no indication that he was close to making a decision, but when he came out and just said ‘I believe,’ I cried. I simply just lost it.”

The powerful story shows that even when Strobel was trying to get his “wife out of the cult,” God was “working in his life,” Laurie highlighted.

The California pastor insisted that no one is without hope, including the “nonbelieving husband, or nonbelieving wife, or the nonbelieving parents.”

Lee Strobel shared one more story to prove that point, concerning his father-in-law, Al, who was an atheist.

The Christian author said that following his conversion, he went with Leslie to “tell Al about Jesus,” but was met with a cold response: “Good for you, but never bring up Jesus to me again,” his father-in-law said.

“But he was on his death bed, I shared Jesus once more with him, and he came to faith in the last cogent conversation of his life, and he died,” Strobel revealed.

– christian post

Hundreds of Christians flee Egypt’s north sinai amid ISIS killing spree

February 26, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Egypt, February 25, 2017: Hundreds of Christians in Egypt’s North Sinai province fled the area Friday after the Islamic State terror group killed seven Christians in just three weeks.

Reuters says one of its reporters saw at least 25 families from the Evangelical Church in Sinai in the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal.

Church officials were quoted as saying that 100 of the roughly 160 families in North Sinai were fleeing. More than 200 students studying in el-Arish, the province’s capital, have also left.

“I am not going to wait for death,” Rami Mina, a Christian who fled, was quoted as saying. “I shut down my restaurant and got out of there. These people are ruthless.”

On Thursday, Kamel Youssef, a plumber, was shot to death in front of his wife and children in their home in el-Arish, according to ABC News. It was the seventh killing since Jan. 30.

Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, recently released a video threatening Christians in the country. IS is also believed to be behind the bombing of a chapel adjoining Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic pope, in December. At least 28 people were killed. Egypt’s IS affiliate is based in the Sinai Peninsula.

“Oh crusaders in Egypt, this attack that struck you in your temple is just the first with many more to come, God willing,” said a masked man in the video. The group claimed the same man blew himself up in the chapel.

A priest, who was not named and who also left el-Arish, was quoted as saying that the flight from the area in recent days is unprecedented in size. “You feel like this is all meant to force us to leave our homes. We became like refugees.”

“The scene here is really painful,” Mina Thabet, a researcher with the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, was quoted as saying. “This was a test to the government. It failed and its management of the crisis was terrible.”

Earlier this week, a Coptic Christian man was shot in the head while his son was burned alive in el-Arish. The father, 65-year-old Saad Hana, and his son, 45-year-old Medhat, were found by Egyptian security officials Wednesday, according to Al-Ahram.

In another attack on Jan. 30, Coptic Christian trader Wael Youssed Meland was shot and killed by masked men in his grocery shop in el-Arish, while on Feb. 12, a Coptic veterinarian named Bahgat William Zkhar was shot in his car just south of the city.

Two other Coptic Christians, Adel Shawky and Gamal Tawfiq Gares, were also shot and killed by masked assailants this month.

Copts make up only 10 percent of the nation’s 92 million population, and have often been victims of militants who have vandalized churches, Christian bookshops, orphanages and other buildings.

– christian post

AP: Pastors arrested and remanded to jail at Bhongiri

February 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Andhra Pradesh, newsletter-india, Persecution

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AP: Pastors arrested Andhra Pradesh, February 21, 2013: Pas. D. Naveen Kumar and his fellow pastors were arrested at Yadagirigutta and remanded to jail at Bhongiri District of Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh. The pastor n his associate were arrested at scene of the crime on the complaint given by one Srinivas. The Pastor was invited to offer prayers by a family on the occasion of  a birthday at Tulasi Garden, which is proposed colony of 100 cottages under construction. These are the daily wage laborers who had migrated from outside. While hey were attending the family prayer. some reportedly BJP and RSS volunteers attacked them and dragged them to the police station on false allegations of conversion.  The police at Yadagirigutta framed charges under sections 295 A & 298 of the Indian Penal Code for hurting religious sentiments and blasphemy of other gods

AP: Pastors arrestedAccording to the sub-inspector, they were not supposed to preach in the temple towns, according to a Government Order Nos. 746 and 747 and hence were arrested. Franklin Sudhaker of the Andhra Pradesh chapter of the All India Christian Council took them to the Bhongiri Muncif Court where they were remand till 11 February, 2013. He is also working with Advocate P. Sridher for their bail. Pastors Naveen and Bro. Balraj who were also earlier arrested and remanded to Bhongiri Sub-Jail on 28.1.2013. The CSF has a copy of the Remand Report from the police station. A petition was given to Bhongiri Town Dy. Superintendent of Police, M. Srinivasa by a rally of 200 about Christians from the area.

SC stays Veerappan aides’ hanging for 6 Weeks

February 21, 2013 by  
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SC stays Veerappan aidesNew Delhi, February 20, 2013: Hanging of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has been further delayed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday extending its interim order staying the execution of death sentence imposed on them for killing 22 police personnel in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.

“In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six months to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.

“As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue” until further orders, the bench also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.

The bench noted that the subject matter of the petition was relating to the right of the death row convicts to get their sentence commuted to life imprisonment on account of delay of execution of their death sentence.
“This is the main question involved when this matter was taken by us. It was brought to our notice that other writ petitions involving the same issue were heard by a bench of two judges in which senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and T R Andhyarujina were requested as amicus curiae,” the bench said.

Veerappan’s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were awarded death sentence in 2004 in connection with a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993 in which 22 police personnel were killed.

Their mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 13 and they are presently lodged in a jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.

A TADA court in Mysore had in 2001 sentenced them to life term which was enhanced to death sentence by the apex court.

Gang leader Veerappan was killed in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Police in October 2004.

The apex court also noted that the judgement in the writ petition heard by another bench on the issue was reserved on April 19, 2012.

The bench said it has been informed by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval that while considering the two writ petitions, of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and M N Das, the other bench had the occasion to consider similar matters in which the mercy petitions were pending before the President.

The CJI said that since another bench has already heard and reserved its judgement on the issue, there is a possibility that the pleas of Veerappan aides can be heard by the same bench also.

The court is hearing two petitions, out of which one was filed by the four convicts and the other by advocate Samik Narain, on their behalf.

Urging the apex court to intervene, the four death convicts pleaded that a decision on their mercy petition has been delayed by nine years and as per its earlier order they are entitled to seek remedy for undue long delay in the execution of the sentence of death.

“Nine years delay in disposal of the petitioners’ mercy petitions has given them a right to approach this Court or the High Court to seek a commutation of the sentence of death,” the petition said.

On the last date of hearing, the court gave Narain the liberty to amend and rectify the petition after objections were raised on its maintainability by Attorney General G E Vahanvati who was asked to assist the court.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the four convicts, had said their execution should be stayed as another apex court bench had reserved its order on a plea for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

Gonsalves had referred to the petitions filed by the two condemned prisoners, Bhullar and Das, on whose plea for commutation of capital punishment to life term on the ground of delay, the apex court reserved its verdict in April last year.

The bench earlier had said that hearing this matter may also have a bearing on the petitions filed by the death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case against the rejection of their mercy petition.

The apex court had on May 1 last year had decided to adjudicate itself the pleas of Rajiv Gandhi killers — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan alias Arivu — against their death penalty due to the delay of over 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions by the President.

The Madras High Court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.

– pti

Khudai Khidmatgar at Kumbh Mela to spread peace

February 21, 2013 by  
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Khudai Khidmatgar delegation at Kumbh Mela to spread message of peaceUttar Pradesh, February 20, 2013: A delegation of Khudai Kidmatgar reached Allahabad for Maha Kumbh Mela for inter-faith dialogue and to spread the message of peace and humanity. The team of Khudai Khidmatgar is led by Faisal Khan with Inamul Hasan, Mahipal Saraswath, Abdul Jabbar, Maulana Shamim Ahmad, Bagwan Lal Banshiwal, Krishna Naik and Vivek Pandey, who visited the Kumbh Mela on 16th February. This was at the invitation of Shri Shri Maa Poorn Pragya Ji to Khudai Khidmatgar.

The Khudai Khidmatgar delegation stayed at Kumbh Mela venue near the bank of Ganga for 4 days and in the meanwhile distributed literature regarding Humanity, Peace, Brotherhood and necessity of Communal Harmony written by Prof. V. K. Tripathy and Bharat Dogra.

The Kumbh Mela is held every three years where Hindus gather to take a dip in the holy river. It is held by rotation in Haridawar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.

Faisal Khan said, “the aim of Khudai Khidmatgar is to unite the hearts of all humans, irrespective of Caste, Community and Religion. We came to Kumbh to realize that we are in support with all forms of peace and activities with unity. If we avoid moments like the Kumbh by not reaching to there, it will make communal forces use that opportunity. The Khudai Khidmatgar believes in all form of grass-root activism and not in seminars and symposium like most NGOs and in these four days the message of Khudai Khidmatgar had reached lakhs of people through Kumbh, he concluded.

Inamul Hasan said, “DIL JODO NAFRAT CHORHO ( Unite Hearts, Set Aside Hatred) ” is the prime objective of every Khudai Khidmatgar and we will not divert from this ideology. The delegation distributed 40,000 printed material on communal harmony. Kavi Abdul Jabbar, a poet from Rajasthan narrated  his poetry on every concluding session of Maa Poorn Pragya’s speech. The delegation also visited the cottages of all Hindu saints to meet them.

– tcn

30% increase in UP budget for “minority welfare”

February 20, 2013 by  
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UP budget for minority welfareUttar Pradesh, February 19, 2013: Uttar Pradesh government has highlighted the budgetary allocation for the minority welfare in the budget. The official spokesperson has stated that minority welfare has been given ample attention in the budget.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in his second budget for 2013-14 which he tabled on Tuesday in state assembly has increased the budget allocation for minority welfare by Rs 612.95 crores. This is 29.5 percent more than the budget allocation of current year 2012-13.

For the scheme “Hamari Beti Uska Kal” a provision of Rs 350 crores has been made. In previous budget it was Rs 300 crores. In this one time financial assistance of Rs 30000 is given to minority girls who have completed their high school. Similarly a budget of Rs 777 crore has been allocated for the fee reimbursement scheme for minorities.
For the construction of boundary walls of qabristans(graveyards), a provision of Rs 300 crores has been made in the budget. Another Rs 27.80 crores has been allocated for the Haj House in Ghaziabad. The State Haj Committee too has been given a grant of Rs 3.72 crores in the budget.

For bridging the critical gaps in minority dominated areas, a provision of Rs 492 crores has been done. For setting up educational hub for minorities where there will be arrangement for education from Class VI to XII has been done. There will be ITI, para-medical institute in this hub and also coaching for engineering and medical entrance examination. A fund of Rs 34 crores has been allotted.

For coaching of minority students for IAS/PCS and other higher competitions, a sum of Rs 1.85 crore has been allocated. Another Rs 200 crores has been allotted for imparting modern education in the madarsas along with religious teachings. The state governemnt aided Arbi Farsi Madarsas have also been given Rs 36.56 crores for the pension and arrear payment of teaching and non teaching staff. For the Arabic schools a provision of Rs 315.50 crores has been done while for the Arbi Farsi Madarsas recognised upto Aliya level have been given Rs70 crores.

For the minority girls studying in class IX a scheme has been launched for giving free cycles. It will cost around Rs 9.39 crores. For setting up mini ITI in madarsas budget of Rs 6.05 crores has been allotted. For the poor parents of minority girls, a provision of Rs 12 crores has been done for the marriage of their daughters.

– tcn


February 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Uttar Pradesh

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Hindu Fundamentalists disturb a prayer meeting in MP

February 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Madhya Pradesh, newsletter-india

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Madhya PradeshMadhya Pradesh, February 19, 2013: Pastor Iliyas Buck, 40, belongs to India Campus Crusade for Christ and is involved with its Church Planting Ministry. On 18-02-2013, Monday morning, he was conducting a Prayer Meeting and Bible Study in the residence of a believer named Hiralal in a village called Roshni, about 40 kilometres from the Khandwa Railway Station in Madhya Pradesh.

As the prayer meeting was in progress, at about 12:00 a.m. 9 RSS and Bajrang Dal activists barged into the meeting place and began to disturb the meeting at about 12.00 noon. They straight went to the pastor and began arguing with him for about half an hour falsely alleging him that he is trying to forcibly convert Hindus to Christianity. Then they sent for the police from the Roshni Police Station, who immediately came and began arguing and objecting to Pastor’s prayer meeting and forcible conversion of Hindus.

The pastor told the police that it was a prayer meeting and bible study programme of the believers and that they were not trying to forcibly convert anybody to Christianity as alleged.However, the police who were not convinced with pastor’s explanations took Pastor Iliyas, and 3 believers, Hiralal, Vishram and Sunder to the police station and kept them in the police lock up. After a prolonged inquiry into the incident and a video recording of the whole thing, they were released at about 10:30 in the night. When they were let out, they were also ordered that they must come to the police station whenever they are sent for. Please pray for them.


Odisha Police Atrocity on Tribals – Three including a child admitted

February 19, 2013 by  
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odisha tribalsOrissa, February 15, 2013: As per reports, On 15th February 2013 night, police from Badagad (District Ganjam) police station, came to village Thatanchara and forced their way into houses of 3 tribal and 2 non-tribal poor families. They picked up Jatho Mandal, Junas Mandal, Daud Gomango, Simanto Dalabehera, and Kornail Raita.

After torture and questioning, Jatho Mandal, Junas Mandal and Daud Gomango were released early the next morning. They returned to their village and informed others of the incident and that two other persons are still being tortured. Information of atrocities of police spread through the villages and soon a large number of people – about 400 gathered on road at village Sarangipalli and engaged in ‘rasta roko”. By afternoon, police initiated a “peace committee meeting” after which the police released the remaining two persons also from their custody.

By that then the conditions of both tribals had become bad and they had to be rushed for treatment to the Medical College at Berhampur. Kornail Raita is aged about 50 years and is father of 3 daughters and a son all aged between 9 and 18 years. Simanto Dalabehera is aged about 42 years and is father of a daughter aged 12 yrs and a son aged 4 years. While breaking open into house of Dalabehera his child’s hand was stamped upon by policemen, causing grievous hurt. His child’s hand was fractured and is also being treated at Medical college.

– Bro k j markose

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