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Greatest Muslim nation on earth wonders what happens; Christianity grows like never before!

Indonesia, a nation with over 215 million Muslim believers that total 13% of the total Muslim world population is in for a surprise! Unprecedented growth among Christians with an Evangelical and Pentecostal identity puzzles the nation. In Indonesia it is a disgrace and a dangerous act to convert to Christianity from a Muslim background. People who are converts are experiencing different kinds of persecution within the extended family, but also within society.  Exact figures are hard to gather but a recent report estimates that 10% of Indonesians are Christians. A figure many Christian leaders believe is too low.

Some interesting facts?

  • In the early 1960s there were no Evangelical churches in Temanggung, where the soccer-field revival took place; now there are more than 40.
  • In the capital Jakarta, newly built mega churches send steeples into the sky
  • Other Christians worship at unofficial churches based in hotels and malls, where Sunday services rival shopping as a popular weekend activity
  • Asia’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ, built in 2007, presides over Manado city in eastern Indonesia, while Indonesian cable TV beams 24-hour Christian channels.

Time magazine reports: “What is it about Evangelical Christianity that has so resonated in Indonesia? As in many other crowded, developing-world countries where a person can feel lost in a teeming slum, the concept of individual salvation is a powerful one. At the same time, the attempted hijacking of Muslim theology by a small band of homegrown terrorists who have killed hundreds of Indonesians in recent years has led some to question their nation’s majority faith. So, too, has the general trend toward a more conservative Islam that has given rise to hundreds of religiously inspired bylaws, from caning for beer-drinking to enforced dress codes for women. Not everyone, though, is celebrating Christianity’s boom. Some Muslims view the faith as an unwanted foreign influence, even though Islam, too, is an imported religion”.

I am excited about this recent development and it gives hope to us who have not been part of such sweeping moves of God in our nations. If God can do it in strongholds of Islam, He can AND will move here as well!

John

Report: Christianity Growing in Indonesia – World – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

“Take this city, a city should be shining on a hill” U2- Stockholm

One of my favorite songs is the beautiful song of U2 from the album “How to dismantle an atomic bomb”. At the end of the song Bono’s lyrics say: Take this city, a city should be shining on a hill
. Take this city
, if it be your will.” These words relate to the Gospel of Matthew 5:14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden”.

As I am thinking about these words and what it takes to be shining in the world… Bono answers that question too as he sings: Yahweh, Yahweh
. Always pain before a child is born. Yahweh, tell me now
. Why the dark before the dawn?

There is always pain in birth. There is always darkness before light. I have this picture in my heart that becomes stronger and stronger as I think and pray about my dear city Stockholm that in so many ways seems to be overcome by darkness.

The picture I have is that of planet earth as it was still unformed, Gen 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…

If you and I had been there would we have noticed the presence of the Spirit of God? Would we have noticed that He was hovering over the waters? What was He doing there? How long did this go on? From our history and from the Bible we know that the Holy Spirit prepares the ways of God… In the same way as the Spirit was preparing the still unformed and dark earth, God is preparing our city, Stockholm which seems to be empty of His presence (at times)… yet I know that when the time has come God will speak as He did in the beginning: Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light!

Also in our days God is preparing Stockholm by His Spirit, at times we hardly notice it… there is so much work done in hiding, yet when the time has come He will speak with such authority, such hope, such grace that people will turn to Him, acknowledging Him and knowing Him. I see that day in my heart. While there is still pain, while there is still darkness… I am waiting for that day!

There are people in our city overcome by pain and darkness… let’s pray and tell them that soon there will be birth, soon there will be light… as God speaks again words too wonderful to imagine… as young and old turn to Jesus and be transformed!

That’s the Way I see it (in faith!)

John

For the lyrics of “Yahweh” by U2 click here!

Yet another woman caught between West and Islam!

This morning I was watching the film “Women on the border to West(ern societies – free translation of me) a film from Dilsa Demirbag-Sten on the PLAY Axess TV channel, via the web. Among the ones whose situation was addressed was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman whose viewpoints I recently wrote about (here). The reason for showing this movie on Axess was the newly released book by Dilsa called “The Fatherland – Fosterland”.

Dilsa Demirbag Sten born 10 October 1969, is from Kurdish background and was born in southeastern Turkey. In 1976 she came to Sweden and was raised here. She is an author and freelance journalist. At early age she was “given” to be engaged against her will but broke the engagement and escaped a forced marriage. She moved to Stockholm, where she worked for the National Theatre, Amnesty International and became advisor to Minister for Integration, Leif Blomberg. She has committed to the fight against the oppression of women and honor related violence. Demirbag-Stone is a liberal and Islam critic. She is involved in the atheistic Humanist Association and claims to work for a secular, democratic and equal society.

I appreciate her fight against Islam fundamentalism and the way women and girls are abused within that system. The film is an eye-opener which should be “compulsory viewing” for every politician and people working within areas of social welfare and integration.

While I was still reviewing some of the pictures and stories in my mind, I met an older woman in Tensta this morning. She also was born in Turkey, like Dilsa. However, she was born in an Orthodox Christian tradition. “Pray for us” she told me, “because it is so hard for us here in Tensta as Muslims take over more and more. You Western people have no idea how they think and how they do… we have some experience from that back home; that’s why we are here. Now the same thing is going to happen here!” (For the reader; an Arabic prince Adbul Aziz Ben Fadh, son to Saudi Arabians former king Fadhwants wants to build a mosque in this part of the city by donating 400 million Swedish kronor, (60 million dollars). The prince already helped to built mosques in Los Angeles and Edinburgh.

When will we learn and when will we listen? This older Turkish woman’s cry for help (and prayer) was resembling the cry of thousands of unheard voices of women (and men) who are entangled in the web of exclusion of Muslim faith and control, removing more and more people into isolation and segregation.

That’s the Way I experienced it…

John

Some of the greatest pictures from iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull

The scary reality of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano outbreak the other week has left us all handicapped in many ways. That terrifying natural outbreak by uncontrolled natural powers (funny how we always try to control everything which is inconvenient) doesn’t only leave destruction and despair in its way, there is even great beauty, as you will find out when checking the following photos through this link!

Enjoy!

John

Teachers – experts in “head –knowledge” or good educators?

We have a problem in our educational systems. Today’s article in SVD and other daily papers: (here, here, and here) addresses the issue of formal education and the importance of having schooled teachers. Schooled which way? Schooled to do what? The formal university, theoretical knowledge based education, which produces experts in “head knowledge” possibly without the necessary skills to be able to relate and communicate to groups of people.

I do believe in the importance of having schooled personnel for the training and educating of new generations. BUT, we only seem to be focusing on a certain segment of society as we consider the needs… In my daily life I meet literally hundreds of people every month who because of many different reasons don’t fit our educational systems and they find themselves denied of that which we consider a human right in our time and day; namely education. There is a “övertro” – a hyped faith in our educational systems, which only recognize the formal aspects of education and cannot deal with the non-formal and informal aspects of education and forming.

Those who find themselves denied access to power in society develop for themselves a whole informal framework in which they operate with great skill and effectiveness. They value little the fruits of formal education because they understand instinctively that the whole system is designed to deny them access to real influence. It is this aspect of non-formal education, which has received little attention. The method you use to educate determines the goal group with which you work. The further you move into the realms of formal education the more ‘up market’ your goal group becomes. This is unavoidable. Therefore your choice of method in education actually reveals your value system. It reveals who you believe to be a priority group.

The down-playing of non-formal and informal education by lack of recognizing (and accreditation) within our systems closes the door to many people who might be much better teachers than those educated in our limited and stream-lined systems which give no room for people not accredited by our system but whose teaching abilities, experiences and personalities might make tremendous differences in the lives of the students.

This problem is an overall educational problem and we find this in many different spheres of education, both in secular as well as in the theological educational systems. We cannot train teachers, or for that sake pastors, leaders by (over) emphasizing the formal aspects of education. Throughout the world there is “hunger” for alternative education that gives room (and acknowledgement) for apprenticeship, out of the classroom experiences and non-formal and informal aspects of training. It is about time for us to make room for alternative ways to educate and acknowledge teachers; because formal educational forms streamline and secure maintenance rather than creativity.

That’s the Way I see it!

John

No crucifix – but burka is Okay! Religious discrimination in politically (un)-correct England.

BBC news tells us that a Christian nurse Shirley Chaplin from Exeter lost a discrimination claim against her employers and is moved to a desk job after refusing to remove her crucifix at work, which she had been carrying for over 30 years!

While at the same time other employed people can wear a burka within the health care, Shirley has to remove her religious symbol because of health issues. That’s how far the corrosion of foundational values and praxis can go in our so-called Christian nations. The overwhelming pressure in the West to try to appease and please every person’s right in regard to freedom of press, speech and religion creates over-sensitivity towards people from other cultures and religions while rejecting our own roots (almost like a false guilt trip).  If a decision like this would have been made in the context of a Muslim believer or for that sake any other (non-Christian) person, it would have caused a landslide of reactions and demonstrations causing a reversal of the decision. But, since this is only one of those “weirdo’s” uh, Christians, it is acceptable and only right to do so… or?

What do you think about this?

John