A Complete Bible for the Next Generation | Confidence in the Gospel

  1. The Philippines: A Complete Bible for the Next Generation
  2. India: Baseless Charge Leaves a Pastor and His Family in Ruins
  3. USA: North Carolina Church Baptizes 282 People in a Day
  4. Iraq: Deadly Fire at Wedding Hall Devastates Christian Town
  5. World: Confidence in the Gospel as Good News

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The Philippines: A Complete Bible for the Next Generation

Source: Wycliffe Bible Translators, September 13, 2023

When people read, hear, or see God’s Word in their own language, their lives change.

In June 2023, after 66 years of waiting, the Isnag people in the Philippines celebrated the complete Bible in their language. At the ceremony, some people clutched the books tightly, while some immediately opened the Bible and began reading the Old Testament passages.

Seeing everyone celebrate, Kelly Chesnut, director of spiritual content and development for Wycliffe USA, was reminded of the transforming power of God’s Word when it’s in your language. Watch the video to celebrate along with the Isnag people (or click on the image below).

On another note…

Not everyone is thrilled about getting the Bible and its message to people who haven’t had access to it. The Mission, a new documentary film from National Geographic, debuted at a film festival in August and will be in theaters October 13. It tells the story of John Chau, a young man killed while trying to reach one of the world’s most isolated tribes. Evidently, the portrayal of Chau and his mission is anything but favorable.

In February, the Mission Matters podcast aired an interview with Mary Ho who leads the organization that sent Chau. She tells a different story.

India: Baseless Charge Leaves a Pastor and His Family in Ruins

Source: Morning Star News, September 21, 2023

Not even a judge’s reprimand of police spared an impoverished pastor in India from being jailed on baseless claims of fraudulent conversion, one of the latest examples of how Hindu extremists misuse “anti-conversion” laws.

Pastor Bajarang Rawat, a 47-year-old convert from Hinduism in Mohanlalganj, Lucknow District in Uttar Pradesh state, faces charges of converting people by “allurement” even though police could find no witnesses against him, and the only evidence they presented was his Bible, the pastor said.

“Reprimanding the policemen, the magistrate told them that it was not a crime to possess a Bible, and that he himself has a Bible at home,” Pastor Rawat told Morning Star News. “The policemen stood silent, but even after this conversation, I was sent to jail.”

The full story includes pictures of Pastor Rawat and his family. They have suffered greatly for some time due to fierce local opposition and were living in poverty, with nothing to offer others but prayer.

Also from Morning Star News, though, read this strange story: Pastor in Pakistan Admits Wound Was Self Inflicted, Leader Says.

USA: North Carolina Church Baptizes 282 People in a Day

Source: The Christian Post, September 19, 2023

A multisite megachurch based in North Carolina has baptized 282 people in a single day, with all but three of the baptisms taking place at an outdoor ceremony.

Biltmore Church, a congregation with seven campuses in the state, held a mass baptism event at a property in Fletcher on Sunday, baptizing 279 people there. The church baptized three others at their morning worship services.

Devin Goins, who serves as Pastor of Culture and Engagement at Biltmore, told The Christian Post that he believes “this can only be attributed to God moving in people’s lives.”

“Additionally, our team has worked through numerous personal conversations, and we devoted a large portion of the sermon a few weeks ago to the subject of baptism,” said Goins.

The full story includes pictures.

In our last edition of News Briefs, we shared about a campus worship event in Alabama that led to a spontaneous mass baptism (evidently without connection to the local church). See also this one: Over 1,000 Students Attend Texas A&M Corpus Christi Worship Event; 124 Baptized.

Iraq: Deadly Fire at Wedding Hall Devastates Christian Town

Source: International Christian Concern, October 3, 2023

A devastating fire broke out at a wedding hall in the northern Iraq town of Qaraqosh in the Nineveh Plains region on the night of September 23. More than 100 people were killed, with hundreds more burned and injured, according to reports. Malfunctioning celebratory fireworks are believed to have caused the fire, which then engulfed the wedding hall in flames. The community of around 20,000 people is in total grief as they mourn the loss of entire families.

The town of Qaraqosh is predominately Christian and was central to the ISIS genocide and persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria from 2014 to 2017. The community has struggled to rebuild and recover since those days of intense persecution, with high rates of Christian emigration from Iraq continuing every month. Tragedies such as this further discourage the community in their future in Iraq, as the Christian community seeks to come around to comfort the town of Qaraqosh in this time of grief and suffering.

International Christian Concern has supported many families in the town of Qaraqosh for several years. Currently, field staff and partners are providing relief and encouragement to those we serve who have suffered this great loss of life. Please pray for those with family members in hospitals getting emergency treatment and those who have lost loved ones.

Read the full story.

Another ICC story reports on the warm welcome Armenia and Armenians in diaspora have shown to thousands of Armenian Christian refugees who have fled Azerbaijan, where a renewed conflict sparked fears of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Read Armenian “Angels” Unite to Aid Refugees as Count Reaches 90,000. That’s a lot of refugees! See the latest Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin for more on that situation and others.

World: Confidence in the Gospel as Good News

Source: Evangelical Focus, September 13, 2023

Many in the West today consider Christianity outdated, stale, and irrelevant. The Good News has now become Bad News! This has contributed to the decline and loss of vitality in Western Christianity. This loss is also in part due to the inner spiritual and moral weaknesses of the church.

This loss of confidence in the gospel, however, is not shared by most Christians in the [majority world]. To begin with, in many societies and cultures in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and [the Middle East/North Africa], the encounter with Christ is recent and the experience of its efficacy and power is fresh and liberating.

  • In Asia itself, think about the tens of millions that have been set free from the age-old fear of and bondage to demonic powers and evil spirits.
  • Think of the millions of Dalits in India who have been lifted out of cultural and sociopolitical oppression after thousands of years of existence as a subhuman underclass.
  • Or, consider many intellectuals in China, both Christian and non-Christian, who see clear evidence in history that the gospel of Christ offers the only adequate basis for building a new society based on genuine freedom, democracy, justice, and equity.

Many Christians in the majority world are driven by a vision of a new world founded on the gospel of Christ, which holds promise for both now and eternity. With them, there is conviction in and excitement over the saving power of the gospel. They find it rationally coherent and intuitively true and satisfying. And most of all, empirically they have seen its power transforming lives and communities.

This is excerpted from a longer article by Hwa Yung, Bishop Emeritus of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. Read What Can Western Christians Learn from Churches in the Rest of the World? and a sequel published September 25.