by Ruth Valerio, originally published on her blog.
It’s a pretty scary thing asking an external body to do some research for you and having absolutely no control over the findings. What if you don’t like what they come back with?!
So it was with some nervousness that we decided at Tearfund to team up with the research firm Barna Group to look into connections between caring for people in poverty and spiritual growth.
In particular, we wanted to look at what we call a ‘whole life response’ to poverty. Tearfund is absolutely committed to helping Christians, in the UK and around the world, respond to poverty in a ‘whole life’ way: through prayer, giving, advocacy, lifestyle, and other actions such as volunteering. We summarise that as Pray, Act, Give.
In the research we wanted to explore this whole-life response and see how that features for Christians in the UK (and in the US too – a US version is soon to be released). The research came back with a huge amount of fascinating findings – too many to go into in detail here! But three things in particular stood out for me: Continue reading Four Out of Five Christians Take Action on Poverty
by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog.
In November, Gracie and I spent ten days with Sub-Saharan African migrants in Egypt and Morocco—most of whom are undocumented. Spending time with these vulnerable and courageous people has refreshed our perspective on life and faith.
I share these thoughts on migration and immigration in response to disturbing news articles I’m reading about anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA and Europe–and I hope to dissuade people of faith from any collusion with negative attitudes and the promotion of restrictive policies.
This past Sunday I preached at an underground church made up or largely undocumented African immigrants living in Morocco. Morocco is now the preferred crossing point for Africans seeking to enter Europe—though many have no choice but to seek passage via war zones like Yemen, or failed states like Libya.
At the Moroccan-Spanish border, high fences, dangerous waters and strict immigration enforcement are keeping migrants from leaving the African continent. Hundreds of thousands are blocked, settling in a foreign land. Many more are currently en route from countries ravaged by war, political impasses and poverty. Continue reading Christian Migrants Explaining Why They Flee
by Joel Daniels. Originally posted at Engaged Pentecostalism.
It was widely reported last week that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented new research that says we humans have just over decade to change the way we consume energy or the detrimental effects will be irreversible. In an era where apocalyptic-style news is commonplace, this story has not received the space that it is due.
Indeed, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, why do so many people of faith, particularly Pentecostals, continue to refute the reality of climate change? Second, do we have a moral obligation to fix the ecological problem that we created? And third, what can we, as individuals, even do?
1 Climate Change
According to surveys, disbelief in climate change rose 7% between 2013 and 2014, and for those that can at least acknowledge that temperatures and sea levels are rising, white Evangelicals are the least likely among their Christian sisters and brothers to claim that it has anything to do with human activity.
What is perhaps most disheartening is that the more people go to church the less likely they are to take responsibility for this planetary crisis. How can that be? Continue reading Why Should Pentecostals Care about Climate Change?
by Elizabeth D. Rios.
Almost every Evangelical knows what the 81% means when talking about politics. Nothing more actually needs to be said in many cases because most on both sides of this political discourse know. If you are reading this and you don’t know, where have you been? That percentage represents the 81% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Others state that 35%-45% of all evangelicals voted for Trump. And still others debate if it was 81% at all. At the end of the day, it does not really matter the exact number because what we are seeing in America is that too many Evangelicals voted for Trump knowing all he represented BEFORE going to the polls.
What white evangelicals saw (and continue to see) in Trump is a hero. Some even have referred to him recently as Jesus Christ himself with a billboard ad that stated “the Word became flesh” (verified here for those who can’t believe anything negative). THAT is scary!
They see him as the hero that will be the one to slow the growth of diversity (specifically brown taking over America although Brown as in Latinos is the majority in the U.S. already), slow the shrinking role of religion (because in no way does legislating public and private behavior even for non-Christians look like the Taliban) and here’s the biggie reversing Roe vs. Wade, which if can accomplish that, he will be delivering on an evangelical dream that five Republican presidents, including Ronald Regan could not deliver. All this is mesmerizing for white evangelicals so much so that they are willing to do (and have done) anything to get these deliverables, even if they have to sell their soul to do it. Which they have also done.
For many (not all) evangelicals of color, Trump is simply a tragedy in American politics. At first no one took this reality star seriously but then a shift occurred, a racist base was rallied and a biblically illiterate and/or privileged white evangelical community aligned with his agenda and well, the rest is history.
Continue reading The Trump Tragedy: What Some Evangelicals of Color See that Most White Evangelicals Don’t
Originally posted at the Vineyard Justice Network. Check out their website for loads of inspiration on how we can promote social justice as charismatic Christians!
What is a Kingdom approach to thinking about anti-homeless legislation? How should we navigate the ethics of state and/or city laws that make feeding the homeless or sleeping in your car illegal? Should the fact that we worship a homeless man on Sundays make any difference?
Evan B. Howard is a spiritual director, professor of Christian Spirituality, and former Vineyard church planter. He shares his helpful Kingdom perspective on these questions, as well as why he’s advocating for Colorado to pass the Right to Rest bill on March 14.
HOMELESS RIGHTS: A CHRISTIAN CASE FOR THE SUPPORT OF COLORADO’S RIGHT TO REST
BY EVAN B. HOWARD
Every night, people–many people in Colorado–try to sleep outside. Homelessness is a simple fact, not only nationally, but also locally. Let’s take Denver, for example. No matter how you do the math–counting homeless persons and shelter beds available–there are at least a thousand people every night who must sleep outside in Denver.
Most of us do not really notice many of our simple acts of physical survival. We pull up the covers when it gets cold. We get up and relieve ourselves in our bathrooms, rooms which we also use for hygiene purposes. We prepare our meals in kitchens and eat them in dining rooms. We store our possessions in houses or apartments. But what if we do not have access to these rooms, these “private” places? If private places are unavailable, we are obliged to perform these basic acts of survival in “public” places. We sleep on streets or under bridges or in a vehicle, near to light if possible to ensure safety. If commercial establishments allow only customers access to restrooms, we are obliged to relieve ourselves in alleys. We store (hide) our possessions in a small thicket of bushes in a city park. We gratefully receive food given to us wherever it may be offered. We do what we must to survive.
Continue reading Jesus was Homeless: A Kingdom Approach to Anti-Homeless Legislation
by Vincent Mossberg.
We Christians believe that God is the creator of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God gives mankind the original plan for our existence – to be fruitful and multiply – but also to have dominion and stewardship over the animals and the earth that God has given to us. God is generous in character and by nature good, and He made us free and responsible. So what? How should we humans then steward the earth?
An analogy that for me has become a symbol for the lack of stewardship is the deprivation of the blue whale population. The blue whale is the largest creature that we have seen and identified on the earth, even larger than the largest known dinosaur. Yet they are so shy that whenever they see humans, they dive into the depths of the sea. Also, we don’t know where they give birth or really much about them.
In the beginning of the twentieth century there were 400,000 blue whales in the ocean, but today there are only 10,000 left because of whale hunting. Yes, species have always gone extinct, but today the extinction rate is a thousand times faster than before the time of man. Within the freedom that we have been given, these things are possible, but they are not responsible. Might these be examples of mankind straying away from our original purpose? Continue reading Why Are We To Choose Between Healing the Sick and Caring for the Environment?
by David W. T. Brattston.
Any article on attitudes to racism in the Christian church’s foundational period would be necessarily short. There simply was none. The matter was sometimes different for foreigners and strangers in general.
Racism was absent in the earliest church and in the non-Christian society surrounding it. Christians and other subjects of the Roman Empire simply did not make distinctions based on race. In fact, mentions of a person’s skin color are so rare as to be insignificant. For instance, the Christian Bardesanes in early third-century eastern Syria mentioned the fact that people come in different colors as an example of what everyone agreed was inconsequential.
The only discriminations were based on cultural factors. Jews divided the world into themselves and Gentiles, while for Greeks the distinction was between themselves and “barbarians” i.e. people who did not share Greek language or culture. The Romans divided people between citizens and non-citizens, and then among various economic classes of citizens. The main Roman xenophobia was of hostile peoples outside the Empire. Continue reading The Absence of Racism and Xenophobia in the Early Church
by Lora Angeline Timenia, originally published at Engaged Pentecostalism.
The Acts community gives us a wonderful picture of women being actively part of the community of the Lord in the last days. In Biblical times, the idea of female speakers was acceptable due to God’s use of prophetesses like Sarah, Deborah, Miriam, and Huldah. Luke, the evangelist who wrote the two-volume corpus, Luke-Acts, even began his Gospel with a series of prophecies uttered by the most unlikely women: the barren, the widowed, and the pregnant-before-marriage. Amid societal taboos, God displayed a unique reversal of norms, when he spoke through the barren Elizabeth, the widowed Anna, and the virgin, Mary. Clearly, the Bible demonstrates that God uses women as agents of his revelation.
Unfortunately today, some churches, who stand by a traditional male hierarchy view, do not permit women to speak as pastor-teachers or preachers. In my opinion, these groups miss out on the fullness of what God wants do in their assemblies. Deborah was a judge in the Old Testament, who prophesied, taught, counseled, and even led the community to victory (Judges 4). What can they say about Deborah’s role? What can they say about the role of Philipp’s prophesying daughters in Acts? Could it be that people who do not permit women to speak in the assembly do not recognize the eschatological reversal that God initiated when Jesus triumphed over sin and death? Continue reading Let Women Speak in the Assembly: Towards the Inclusion of Women in Verbal Ministries
by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog.
Violence in Gaza is once again on the rise as the Israeli Defense Forces battle Palestinian protesters outraged by inhumane living conditions in what is often referred to as the world’s largest outdoor prison. The last time tensions flared Israel brutally bombed Gaza in response to Hamas’ missile attacks in 2014— killing over 2000 Palestinians and wounding thousands more. The story of Abraham’s conflict and reconciliation with the ancient king of Philistia (located in modern day Gaza) in Genesis 20-21 is an invitation to Jews, Muslims and Christians to each other through the eyes of faith.
Genesis 20 tells the infamous story of Abraham’s residence as an alien in Gerar, where he lies to Abimelech, king of Philistia, about the identity of his wife Sarah, saying she was his sister. Abraham expects the worst from this foreign king, assuming he will kill him and take Sarah for himself– since she is so beautiful. But after Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem God confronts him in a dream and Abimelech proves attentive. He dialogues with God, defending himself as innocent– and God affirms his integrity (20:5-6). Abimelech confronts Abraham about his lie: “You have done to me things that ought not to be done” (v. 10). He gives Sarah back along with many gifts, 1000 pieces of silver and a welcome to settle wherever they please (20:14-15). Continue reading Peacemaking in Gaza: Abraham’s Model
by Paul Alexander. Originally posted at Evangelicals for Social Action.
Jesus’ mom rocks. In Luke 1, Mary has the nerve to say that, because God is at work in the world, “The hungry have been filled with good things and the rich sent away empty-handed.” Very few people have the courage to say that God is at work to send the rich away with empty hands. Neither Democrats nor Republicans dare talk this way about rich people. (Full disclosure: I am rich.)
When a young Palestinian Jewish girl in occupied Galilee is filled with the Spirit to carry, birth, and rear the Messiah, amazingly bold things get declared. This teenage phenom from the backside of the Roman Empire made a claim that can be reacted to in at least two ways. Continue reading Mary and Money