Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Special delivery for Sugartree Ministries

Sugartree Ministries receives a special delivery from Glenn Beck: 38,000 pounds of food.

In London, Ohioans & Ethiopian church partner

LONDON (BP) -- An email about a mission trip to London during the Olympics captured Terri Frasure's heart.

Upon receiving the notice from the Ohio Woman's Missionary Union, "all I could think about was what a perfect opportunity to reach the nations," said Frasure, a member of First Baptist Church in South Lebanon, Ohio.

"I could not get it out of my heart, that God had commanded us to go to all nations and to teach the Gospel."

Frasure is one of 11 volunteers from churches in the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio ministering in London as the city hosts the Olympics. They are part of a team who came with More Than Gold, a Christian organization seeking to help churches in the United Kingdom engage with the 2012 Olympics, according to its website.

Frasure and her team are working with the Ethiopian Christian Fellowship Church to share the Gospel with people near King's Cross, one of London's biggest travel hubs.

The Ethiopian church is using its building as a hospitality center during the Olympics, offering people free cake, tea and coffee and an opportunity for visitors to watch the Summer Games on TV.

"When they come to take part in that, we sit down and try to talk to them a little bit," Frasure said. "We really try our best to look for an opportunity to share Jesus Christ with them."


Congressman Frank Wolf Adds Voice of Urgency to Senate Special Envoy Bill

Open Doors USA, Rep. Wolf Urge Sen. Webb
To End His Senate Hold on Legislation
SANTA ANA, Calif. (July 17, 2012) – Last month Open Doors USA launched an advocacy campaign to encourage the U.S. Senate to pass a bill which would create a special envoy at the U.S. State Department for religious minorities, including Christians, in the Near East and in South Central Asia.
Senate bill S. 1245 was introduced last year, but it still has not been brought to a vote. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has placed a hold on the bill, preventing it from moving forward. If S. 1245 is not passed in this session of Congress and signed into law, the process will have to be started all over next year in the new session of Congress.  The House overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan measure last summer. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.
Last week Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), asked Sen. Webb to lift the hold placed on the legislation. Wolf has talked to Webb personally and to his staff.
Part of the letter Rep. Wolf sent to Sen. Webb reads: “…I would venture that the Coptic Christians, Baha’is, Chaldo-Assyrians, Ahmadis, small remaining Jewish population and countless other religious minorities throughout the Middle East and South Central Asia who face daily persecution, hardship, violence, instability and even death would be hard-pressed to see your objection to this straight-forward, bipartisan legislation.

“Will a special envoy guarantee these communities’ survival – and even flourishing – in the lands they have inhabited for centuries?  I do not know. But I am certain, that to do nothing is not an option – lest on this administration’s and this Congress’ watch we witness a Middle East emptied of ancient faith communities, foremost among them the beleaguered Christian community.”
Sally Rae, Advocacy Assistant at Open Doors USA, states: “We applaud Rep. Wolf’s efforts to urge Sen. Webb to lift his hold on S. 1245. The creation of a Special Envoy will add a strategic voice of support to these vulnerable regions, especially countries such as Syria, Egypt and Iran. It would communicate that the United States is doing all we can to stem the persecution, violence and even death that religious minorities face in these countries.
“We urge those who care about moving this bill forward to contact their senators. Go to http://advocacy.opendoorsusa.org/ for a sample letter. With a third of the U.S. Senate facing election votes in the fall, it is a great time to share with your elected officials about the issues most important to you. Already over 2,300 people have joined in this timely and critical campaign.”
The Near East countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and also the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The South Central Asian countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. All of these countries are on the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List – www.worldwatchlist.us/ -- of the worst persecutors of Christians with the exception of Israel, Lebanon and Nepal. The Special Envoy would be appointed by the President and report to the President and Secretary of State.
Nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with little or no freedom of religion. Open Doors is an organization that for over five decades has come alongside Christians in 60 of these restrictive, dangerous countries, campaigning for the freedom to believe from the gulags in North Korea to the halls of Congress. Open Doors' outreach to more than 100 million persecuted believers includes delivery of Bibles and other materials, training of indigenous leaders in the Word, Christian community development, prayer and advocacy. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            888-524-2535      end_of_the_skype_highlighting) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            616-915-4117      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email jerryd@odusa.org).

Faith and Pro-Life Activists to Pray and Risk Arrest at the White House as a Public Witness against Unjust HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- There will be a news conference, prayer vigil and civil disobedience at the White House on Wednesday, August, 1 at 3:00 P.M.

The activists will be gathering on Pennsylvania Ave. NW in front of the White House on the Lafayette Park side.

The HHS mandate, which will force people of faith and conscience to violate their deeply held values and convictions, takes effect for many companies and individuals on August 1.

The mandate would force Christians and people of good will to provide abortion inducing-drugs and sterilization in their health care coverage even though it violates their religious beliefs and conscience.

We agree with Cardinal Dolan when he says, "No government has the right to intrude into the affairs of the Church, much less coerce, the Church faithful to engage or cooperate in any way with immoral practices."

The vigil and witness on Wednesday is a preview of a larger national event taking place at the White House called Actsfive29. (Go to actsfive29.com for more information.)

On September 29-October 2 people from all across the nation are coming to the White House to take part in Actsfive29 which will include 72 hours of continual prayer, public witness and arrests.

Wednesday's activities are being led by long time and revered pro-life activist Joan Andrews Bell, Chris Slattery, Founder of Expectant Mother Care in New York City, and the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

Chris Slattery comments;

    "August 1 marks a new day of infamy when the Obama Administration undermines the religious liberty of all Americans. We strongly protest the imposition of a new Obama religious test and immoral health care mandate which offends and degrades millions of Americans.

    "This mandate forces all to be complicit in paying for Obama's anti-religion and anti-life values."
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, adds;
    "Benjamin Franklin stated, 'Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.' Sadly, the Obama Administration is dictating to people of faith and conscience how they are to live their values in the public square.

    "If President Obama can force Christian individuals, institutions and businesses to abandon their core values and follow the dictates of the government in violation of what they know to be true, then religious freedom and the First Amendment are dead.

    "The faith community can never be silent or indifferent when it comes to matters of justice, human rights and religious freedom. As we gather in front of the White House we are sending a powerful message to our President and political leaders that we will never comply with unjust and immoral government mandates."
For more information contact: Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 540.538.4741

Christian Newswire

American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) Launches Abortion, Sexual Trauma and Healing Division

CHICAGO, July 31, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the world's leading faith-based counseling organization, announces the launch of a new professional division focusing on Abortion, Sexual Trauma and Healing. Julie Woodley, ministry outreach representative at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, will provide leadership and serve as the division head, joined by an advisory board of Christian professionals. Woodley is also founder and director of Restoring the Heart Ministries.

"We are committed to equipping Christian counselors and the entire 'community of care' --licensed professionals, pastors, and lay church members with little or no formal training -- to provide the best possible mental health and soul care, ultimately leading clients toward maturity in Christ," said AACC president, Dr. Tim Clinton.

The wounds caused by abortion and sexual trauma are far-reaching and devastating. In response to this epidemic, the AACC is taking a pro-active stance to equip and train counselors and caregivers on these important issues. Many clients -- both men and women -- are affected by such heartache, and it is essential that professional counselors and lay leaders understand their deep soul wounds and are equipped to offer effective healing interventions that lead to forgiveness, freedom, and wholeness.

"My vision for this new division is to mobilize both mental health professionals and lay counselors to respond to the pain of sexual trauma and abortion," said Julie Woodley. "We will provide training to the Christian community and beyond on healing from the deep wounds of post-abortion, sexual trauma, human exploitation, trafficking and prostitution."

In conjunction with AACC, Woodley has produced two DVD training series -- In the Wildflowers, to help lead individuals through the healing process of recovering from childhood sexual abuse, as well as Into My Arms, to help lead women through the forgiveness journey after an abortion.. The DVD training series with curriculum are being used throughout the country and internationally by counseling professionals.

In addition to her outreach role at Timberline Knolls, Woodley is a national speaker, author, and counselor. Her desire to reach men and women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse came out of her own life experiences. Her story has been aired on various national media outlets and she speaks to audiences across the country on healing from trauma. She holds an M.A. in counseling and a certificate in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary. She is also a certified trauma counselor and was ordained in 2000.

Woodley co-authored her life story, Restoring the Heart: Experiencing Christ's Healing after Brokenness with Mathew Woodley. She also wrote Post-Abortion Trauma: The Silent Side of Abortion with Mark Kretschmar, and Surviving the Storms of Life with Dr. H. Norman Wright and Mathew Woodley.

"My passion is to become involved in the lives of others, inviting them to consider their own hearts and helping them discard the things that rob them of the joy that God has for them," adds Woodley. "In my new role, I hope to bring my passion and knowledge to those struggling."

About the American Association of Christian Counselors
The AACC is the world's leading faith-based counseling organization, with a vision to serve the worldwide Christian Church by helping foster healing and maturity in Christ. The organization seeks to educate and equip professional clinicians, pastoral counselors, and lay helpers through developing comprehensive resources, trainings, conferences, magazines, newsletters, webinars, and other media forms. In addition, the AACC facilitates community, networking and collaboration among Christian caregivers around the world. For more information about membership and events, visit our website, call 1.800.526.8673 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1.800.526.8673      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or stop by our social media sites -- Facebook and Twitter.

About Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center
Timberline Knolls is a leading private residential treatment center for women and adolescent girls (ages 12 - 65+) with eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, mood and co-occurring disorders. Located in suburban Chicago, residents receive excellent clinical care from a highly trained professional staff on a picturesque 43-acre wooded campus. Women and families seeking Christian treatment can opt for specialized Christian-based therapy. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call us at 877.257.9611 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            877.257.9611      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. We are also on Facebook - Timberline Knolls, and LinkedIn - Timberline Knolls.

Christian Newswire

DreamWorks acquires VeggieTales' parent company

The animation studio that created Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon has acquired the parent company of Big Idea and its popular VeggieTales brand.
DreamWorks Animation SKG announced this week that it has entered into an agreement to buy Classic Media for $155 million in cash from Boomerang Media Holdings LLC, a portfolio company of Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR.
Classic Media owns one of the most extensive portfolios featuring many of the best-known franchises in family entertainment, including Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Where's Waldo? and George of the Jungle.
In 2009, Boomerang Media LLC purchased Big Idea and Classic Media, which bought Big Idea after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
"As we approach celebrating Big Idea's 20th anniversary [in 2013], we couldn't be more pleased to join the DreamWorks Animation team," said Leslie Ferrell, general manager of Big Idea. "DreamWorks Animation respects and supports Big Idea's successful history in producing faith-based, family friendly entertainment and is committed to supporting our growth. We expect many wonderful things to come of this partnership."


Responding to International Religious Freedom Report, Rep. Smith Calls for Sanctions on Worst Violators

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- In response to the release of the State Department's annual International Religious Freedom Report, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) expressed concern about the administration's failure to prioritize religious freedom in the face of extreme abuse, as well as its refusal to condition aid on improvements in religious freedom.

Covering nearly every country of the world, the International Religious Freedom Report was mandated by Congress to document religious freedom violations so that the U.S. government could defend religious freedom more vigorously and sanction the worst violators. The International Religious Freedom Act enacted in 1998 was authored by Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10) and cosponsored by Rep. Smith.

"The new report documents deteriorating religious freedom conditions last year in countries like China, Egypt, and Vietnam, and Iran," said Smith. "The real question is, what will the administration do differently than simply dialogue with abusers? Under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, it can and should move quickly to designate Countries of Particular Concern and attach appropriate sanctions. Unfortunately, despite Secretary Clinton's words today, this administration has for almost four years shown very little commitment to promoting religious freedom."

Regarding religions freedom violations in China and Egypt, Smith said, "Reusing existing sanctions, as has in the past been done with China, misses the point and fails to achieve results." Previous administration actions had re-designated an already existing sanction instead of applying a new sanction specifically for religious freedom in China. New information in the report confirms what China's religious believers and the human rights community have been telling us about control, harassment, jailings, and persecution -- religious freedom in China has deteriorated. On Egypt, the Report documented the culture of impunity created by the Egyptian government for crimes against the Coptic community. "The administration's dialogue with the Egyptian government on religious freedom has failed to achieve results, and conditions have gotten worse for the Copts," said Smith. "Egypt's failure to take even the most basic action to ensure justice for and protect its Coptic citizens from crimes, including the abduction and forced conversion of Coptic women, should mean a cut in aid dollars," Smith said. Congress attached conditions to the $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt, but they were waived by Secretary Clinton this year.

Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, as well as the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

Christian Newswire

Monday, July 30, 2012

Former Supermodel Kathy Ireland: Jesus Loves Women and Honors Them

Supermodel-turned-business-mogul Kathy Ireland would be the first to tell you that the beginning of her modeling career in Paris is more glamorous sounding than it actually was. But out of that lonely, uncomfortable time, her life changed forever because she found a new best friend: Jesus Christ.

Inhabiting what her housemates referred to as "the dungeon" – the room at the end of a long, dark hallway – the then 18-year-old Ireland discovered that her newly Christian mother had secretly planted a Bible in her suitcase. Overcome by jet lag, loneliness and boredom during her first days in Paris, Ireland read the Bible her mother packed in her bag.
"I picked it up and randomly opened up to the Gospel of Matthew. And as I read, my life was forever changed," recalled Ireland in a new "I Am Second" video. "I was a rebellious teenager. I was questioning authority – who really knows the truth? Who really knows what is right and what is wrong, who's to say? And I knew that what I was holding in my hands was the truth."

U.S. archer: God has used struggles to 'deepen my trust'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tim Ellsworth, editor of BP Sports and director of news and media relations at Union University, is in London to cover the 2012 Olympics in tandem with Baptist Press' London bureau. Baptist Press will publish features about Christian athletes in the Olympics, recap results of their competition and cover Baptist initiatives to share the Gospel during the Summer Games and among Londoners' rich cultural milieu.

LONDON (BP) -- Jennifer Nichols admits that the road to this year's Olympics has been one of the most trying times of her life.

"My faith has been challenged more than ever before in the last few years," the U.S. archer said. "I really can see how the Lord has used the struggles and hardships I've had to deal with to deepen my relationship with Him and my trust in Him."

The trials, however, have proven to strengthen Nichols' faith in the Lord and to help her rest on Him in the midst of uncertainty and confusion.

"All I had was Him to run to," she said. "It has been hard and painful but so sweet at the same time. I can see how He has brought me back to really grounding myself in my identity in Christ, knowing that I am called to come and die and follow Christ to the cross for the sake of love.

"This is a firm foundation that cannot be shaken."

One of the challenges Nichols went through was the changing nature of the relationship with her sister, who got married in December. Nichols' sister was her traveling and training partner; the two had been practically inseparable for years. And while Nichols' knows that her sister's marriage was a good thing, it also meant that the one person who had been her closest companion now had someone else who was a higher priority.

She also faced some other family struggles as well as setbacks in her performance (failing to make the 2011 Pan American team) that took a toll on her confidence.

Through all of the difficulty, Nichols said she started questioning her faith. Was she really a Christian? Was she really walking in the favor and grace of God? She also realized that she had been living more legalistically, focusing on what she could do on her own to gain righteousness before God.

But Nichols said God ultimately brought her to repentance and a fresh understanding of His grace in her life.

"In all of it, the Lord just proved Himself so faithful," she said. "He showed me that I had placed so much of my identity and my priority in my family, rather than in Christ."


Teen missionaries have ‘unexpected journey’ in Montana

The Faith Baptist Montana Summer Mission Trip was packed full with Divine Appointments that no one in the group was really prepared for.
The two vans left the church building early on July 14, with a trailer of luggage and tents in tow.
Upon arrival in Hot Springs, (population 500, on the Flathead Reservation), the group was greeted by the host church. After the customary welcome, the road-weary troupe soon found out there was a major miscommunication – they had arrived a week earlier than was expected.
What the mission trip organizers had envisioned was having the teens staff the local church’s regional “PathWalkers Camp;” a native Teepee Bible camp for grade school kids.
“So rather than staff the camp, we prayed that God would direct us to needs within the church, and the community to which our student ministry could serve, believing that it was no heavenly mistake that we had arrived a week early,” wrote Pastor Phil Campbell. “It was evident that by the time we departed Hot Springs, our early schedule was right on schedule to when and where God wanted us.”
In the end, the mission group encouraged the local church by helping with building projects, assisting in extensive prep for “PathWalkers Camp”, visiting street-by-street and prayer-walking through town, helping an elderly lady with her garage sale, visiting the nursing home, organizing car washes with the proceeds going towards the Senior Center, assisting at the local food bank and many other projects big and small.
“By the time we left Hot Springs, we were exhausted from all of the ministry that God had led us through,” continued Pastor Phil. “At the conclusion of our week, we were asked to lead the Sunday Service at Hot Springs Bible Church. The mutual [belief] was that God had orchestrated our early arrival, and we were all eagerly waiting to see how God would provide counselors for the “PathWalkers Camp,” since our group would not be there to staff it.”


Bible Museum Closes $50 Million Deal for D.C. Location

(RNS) Planners of a Bible museum in Washington closed a $50 million deal Thursday on a building two blocks from the National Mall.
The Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit group planning the still-to-be-named museum, announced it will be housed at 300 D Street SW in what is now the Washington Design Center, a series of showrooms of luxury home furnishings.
“Our intent is for this museum to showcase both the Old and New Testaments, arguably the world’s most significant pieces of literature, through a non-sectarian, scholarly approach that makes the history, scholarship and impact of the Bible on virtually every facet of society accessible to everyone,” said Mark DeMoss, a member of the Bible museum's board.
The museum, which will likely open in 2016, will highlight the collection of the billionaire Green family of Oklahoma. That collection features more than 55,000 items including biblical artifacts ranging from Dead Sea Scrolls to Torah scrolls that survived the Holocaust. Museum officials expect to also showcase other prominent collections from across the globe.


SHOCKING: Black wedding rejected at white church

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympian Lolo Jones Talks Looking For Love & Staying A Virgin

Lori Jones, or Lolo as she's known, is a Track and Field runner for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team and returning veteran from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And while the stunning 29-year-old has accomplished amazing athletic feats and holds the American record for the fastest 60 meter hurdles, when it comes to her love life, Lolo isn't looking to race into a relationship.
In an interview with Access Hollywood , Lolo - who emphasized that she's single by choice -- admitted that she gets tired of people on Twitter asking why she's not dating anyone.
PLAY IT NOW: Access Extended: Lolo Jones Talks Medal Loss
"That's one of the main reasons, because literally there are so many people who aren't willing to wait for their future spouse. They want to have sex now, they want to hook up," Lolo - who has openly spoken about being a virgin -- said. "That's their life. My life is something else."
As someone who values waiting for the right guy, Lolo admitted it's been a challenge meeting her prince charming.
"I've complained about this to all my friends," Lolo told Access. "'When am I going to finally meet the man of my dreams, my husband, and experience, you know?' Please, end this drought."

"Just Pray" Song In memory of the Colorado shooting victims on July 20th

In memory of the Colorado shooting victims on July 20th, Moriah Peters and Rhett Walker wrote and recorded this song that same day. Get a free download of this song at www.klove.com/just-pray.aspx

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A first: Judge rules against HHS mandate

DENVER (BP) -- A federal judge has handed opponents of the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate their first victory, ruling in favor of a private business whose owners are devout Catholics.

It was the first time a federal judge had ruled against the mandate, which requires employers to purchase insurance plans that cover contraceptives, including ones that can cause chemical abortions. Those drugs, often called morning-after pills and emergency contraceptives, come under various names, including Plan B and ella.

There currently are about 24 lawsuits seeking to overturn the mandate. Many of the suits involve religious organizations.

The mandate was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In his Friday (July 27) ruling, Judge John L. Kane of the U.S. District Court of Colorado ruled that the business -- Colorado-based Hercules Industries -- would suffer "irreparable harm" absent a preliminary injunction. The business is self-insured. The lawsuit now will proceed on an expedited basis.

Although the injunction applies only to Hercules Industries, it eventually could have a more far-reaching impact. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing the company.

"This lawsuit seeks to ensure that Washington bureaucrats cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living," ADF attorney Matt Bowman said in a statement. "Americans don’t want politicians and bureaucrats deciding what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out."


Gaza Christians fear the end of their tiny community

Christians in overwhelmingly Muslim Gaza have long fretted in private about the survival of their tiny community.
But their fears exploded publicly when two members of the flock recently converted to Islam. Christians staged a rare public protest, accusing Muslims of pulling followers from their faith.
The converts, who had been hiding to evade angry relatives, eventually surfaced and said they voluntarily changed religions. Gaza's ruling Islamic militant Hamas movement reiterated respect for freedom of worship and Christian institutions.
But the uproar highlighted the growing sense of vulnerability among Christians here. They are a dwindling minority among a mostly devout Muslim majority, mostly hemmed into the tiny sliver of land because of movement restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt. And they say some Muslims are doubling their efforts to convert them, emboldened by the atmosphere of Islamic fervor fostered by Hamas since it seized power in Gaza in 2007.
"We aren't safe anymore," said Josef Elias, a 44-year-old Christian from Gaza City. "This is a conspiracy against our existence in the Holy Land."
Fewer than 3,000 Christians live among Gaza's 1.7 million Muslim residents, and their numbers have rapidly shrunk in recent years, mainly because of the territory's turmoil. Some Christian families fled during the destruction from Israel's three-week military campaign against Hamas militants in the winter of 2008-2009. Others emigrated as Gaza's economy crumbled under Israel and Egypt's blockade, imposed after Hamas' takeover. Low birth rates also erode the community.
Those who remain say they feel increasingly unwelcome amid the more assertive religiosity everywhere around them. 

Teen Mania Celebrates 25 Years of Global Missions Work

Teen Mania Ministries is celebrating 25 years of sending young people on foreign missions trips through its Global Expeditions program, which has taught thousands of teenagers that they don't have to wait until they are adults in order to be used by God.

"The 25th anniversary for Teen Mania, I don't think it's a congratulations to us. It's just another sign that God is insisting that his mission gets accomplished," Ron Luce, founder and president of Teen Mania, told The Christian Post on Thursday.
Luce and his wife, Katie, started the Garden Valley, Texas-based ministry with the understanding that adults aren't the only ones who can be used by God, and teens don't need a high school diploma to make an impact on the world.
"When we first started, very few people were taking teenagers on missions trips. People would look at us and go, 'You want to take kids where? They can't remember to put their socks on, you want them to remember their passport?'" Luce told The Christian Post on Thursday.
Despite their passion, however, the Luce's decision to work with teenage missionaries wasn't easy. They were torn by their convictions to both reach young people in the U.S. and to work in foreign missions, Luce says, so they prayed for clarity and eventually God showed them that they could do both at the same time.
Since that time, around 70,000 teenagers have participated in Global Expeditions trips, Luce says, and nearly 1.5 million people have received Christ as a result of the witness of these young missionaries. Since its founding in 1987, the program has sent missionaries to over 69 different countries, and this year alone it will send 2,000 young people to 33 countries on six different continents.
"Every place we go we're teaching young people to share their faith in Christ, which, ironically, is a distinction that's not all so common on short-term mission trips now. There's a lot of 'let's go and do good things for people but not necessarily share our faith,' and...we want every single young person to lead people to Jesus," said Luce.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Do We Have to Do to Get Christians to Pay Attention to the Persecuted Church?

Have you ever considered what it must be like to be a surgeon?  I'm asking because the overwhelming majority of people in life, are not surgeons.  Most of us will never go to medical school and most of us will never learn to cut into a dead corpse and take out a heart in order to do a heart transplant on someone.  Truth be told, you would not catch me near a corpse or blood or anything remotely that gory!  I don't have the stomach to even look at medical shows on television where they do these types of things.
I bring this up because every day I read through a number of news articles about Christians being persecuted all over the world.  Some days, to be honest, it's pretty depressing.  I get to read about how Muslims are chopping off the heads of other Christians, or how Boko Haram has decided to murder more of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  When I'm not reading about that, I'm reading about how Christians in China, Indonesia, North Korea and other countries are being tortured and imprisoned for their faith in Christ.  It can get a person down, especially when you consider that despite your efforts to inform other Christians about it, so many of those Christians you're trying to inform just hit the snooze button, yawn and then go back to sleep.  It gets very old.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not into depressing people.  I certainly don't want to complain that the overwhelming majority of the Christians I know are clueless about the plight of the persecuted church, but I have to admit that there are some days when I really would like to give a loud speech and tell people, "Look, your Christianity is not what Christians all over the world are living out as Christians."
I mean, seriously, how hard is it to write a letter to a persecuted Christian?   How hard is it to give a few dollars a month to get bibles into a restricted nation?  How hard is it to pray every day for the persecuted church?


Michigan Senate Committee Approves Key Pro-Life Abortion Bill

A Michigan state Senate committee has approved a package of pro-fie bills intended to protect women and unborn children and further drive down the number of abortions in the state.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard more than two hours of testimony regarding House Bill 5711 on Thursday. HB 5711 is an omnibus bill, also known as the Prolife Bus. The purpose of the Prolife Bus is to hold the abortion industry to the same health and safety standards as other medical providers. Patients’ safety must be put ahead of abortion profits.
“The hearing was held in the Farnum Building near the Capitol. Senator Rick Jones chaired the committee. All wanting to provide testimony were provided the opportunity. An overflow room was available for those unable to obtain seating in the packed hearing room,” said Pam Sherstad of Right to Life of Michigan. “Many spoke in favor of HB 5711 including prolife individuals and representatives from Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference. Other individuals opposed the legislation including representatives from Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, National Organization for Women and American Association of University Women.”
After testimony was heard, Sen. Rick Jones called for a vote, saying, “This issue is too important to not move forward.”


Students for Life Launches 3rd Fellowship for Pro-Life Students

This weekend, Students for Life of America kicked off our 3rd Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship by flying our 2012-2013 Fellows to Washington, D.C. for the kick-off Leadership Training Retreat.
The mission of the Students for Life of America Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship is to raise up the next generation of pro-life leaders. We want to train student pro-life activists to be leaders on campus and beyond and network those student leaders with their counterparts in the national pro-life movement to help further develop their leadership potential. The SFLA Fellows participated in 3 days of leadership presentations, most notably a full-day training with Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute who educated the Fellows on pro-life apologetics, fundraising, speaking, and the importance of the 2012 election.
Ashley Price, Fellow from Mercer University, remarked, “I want to pass this on to my group members back on my campus.” “The fact that youth can really make a difference on the local and national scale shows me that the tide truly is turning.” Christian Andzel, from the University of Buffalo, said, “The fact that the prolife leaders of this generation are in this building have reminded me that our movement must keep our eye on the prize, which is to change minds and hearts on how we view human life from the moment of fertilization to natural death. Once we are able to change the culture, we’ll be able to change the law, and then we will restore the dignity of all human life.”
Throughout the 2012-13 school year, the SFLA Wilberforce Leadership Fellows will be applying the leadership skills they learn on their campus and throughout their communities by organizing events, assisting Students for Life of America in its mission of equipping the pro-life generation, and working with their National Wilberforce Mentor (a leader of an existing national pro-life organization) who will help network them with the national pro-life movement and assist in completion on their Fellowship Projects.


Billy Graham: 'My Heart Aches for America'

July 24, 2012 - In a new prayer letter Billy Graham writes: "My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance."

Billy Graham: 'My Heart Aches for America'
The farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.
Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of ... Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).

I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.

Just a few weeks ago in a prominent city in the South, Christian chaplains who serve the police department were ordered to no longer mention the Name of Jesus in prayer. It was reported that during a recent police-sponsored event, the only person allowed to pray was someone who addressed “the being in the room.” Similar scenarios are now commonplace in towns across America. Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God.

Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.


Matt Maher On Darkness In Music

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WORLDVIEW: Want to be a leader? Then love & serve others

EDITOR'S NOTE: Visit "WorldView Conversation," the blog related to this column, at http://worldviewconversation.blogspot.com/

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- He didn't have time to encourage a confused kid, but he did anyway.

He was Hoffman Harris, the busy pastor of fast-growing Briarlake Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga. The confused kid was me.

I was a new member of his church back in the '70s. I was finishing college and struggling with a call to serve God. Pastor Harris had sermons to write and things to do. He had hundreds of other people and priorities clamoring for his attention. But he made time on a regular basis to talk to me, patiently answer countless dumb questions and connect me to key people he knew from his many years in ministry.

When I became a Mission Service Corps volunteer with the Home (now North American) Mission Board, he persuaded an understandably doubtful mission committee at Briarlake to provide partial support for an untested, untried young man. After I left the Atlanta area to join the IMB staff in Richmond, Va., he kept in touch with me -- more faithfully than I kept in touch with him.

There was something about "Hoff." When he preached or talked to you, he wasn't just saying words. He was giving you his heart. You felt you were the sole focus of his attention. Jesus' disciples must have felt that way during His earthly ministry.

If not for Hoffman Harris, I probably never would have gotten involved in mission communication. If not for Bill and Joyce Dillard, I probably would have quit after the first few years. Bill was pastor of Parham Road Baptist Church, the congregation I joined after moving to Richmond. The Dillards not only welcomed me as a member, but fed me countless meals (the sure way to a single guy's heart) and let me sleep on their couch when I was feeling lonely and discouraged. No advance notice was required: The door was open, the place at the table was set. They had their own sons, but happily "adopted" many guys like me through the years.

I could name other friends, relatives, mentors and missionaries who have freely given me their time and wisdom, with no agenda beyond love and no expectation of return beyond the joy they received in giving. If you look back, you will find people in your life who have done the same for you. They are the people you will remember with gratitude when the finish line comes into sight.

I am amazed at the number of books, articles, speeches, sermons, seminars and videos about "leadership" flooding the market these days when so little real leadership is on display. Never has so much been said about something so rarely practiced. Why are so many institutions, businesses, churches, families and relationships crumbling? There are many reasons, but one of them is lack of authentic leadership at every level of society.

"Leadership is about influence," writes Jeremie Kubicek. "Influence is power. And how you use that power will affect your world and those around you. Will you choose to empower or overpower? To liberate or dominate?"


70,000 Christians 'locked in concentration camps'

Sources confirm North Korea has eased or lifted a number of restrictions for citizens since Kim Jong Un succeeded his father, Kim Jong Il.
Kim Jong Il’s tenure as dictator was marked by intense persecution of Christians, including imprisonment of generations of a family for a single individual’s offense and executions.
Bans have been lifted on Western foods such as pizza and french fries, and restrictions on the number of cell phones have been loosened, for example, according to Ryan Morgan, an analyst with International Christian Concern Asia.
“The new ruler has even been uncharacteristically shown on state television, smiling and visiting an amusement park,” Morgan said.
However, whatever secular benefits may have trickled down to residents of the isolated communist nation, there is no evidence of any improvement in the condition of the persecuted church there, he said.
“We have not heard any reports of improvement for Christians in the country and have no reason to believe anything has changed,” Morgan said. “The regime still has up to 70,000 Christians locked away in virtual concentration camps.”
Morgan explained a Christian believer and three generations of his or her family can still go to prison for life just for owning a Bible.
“We’re hoping and praying this changes soon, but we haven’t seen any sign of it yet,” he said.
In fact, recent media reports say Kim Jong Un has moved to restructure the nation’s security apparatus to maintain his control.
Morgan pointed to a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom stating that the North Korean regime is increasingly viewing refugees with religious beliefs or contacts as “potential security threats.”
The report says the regime is offering rewards for anyone providing information leading to the arrest of individuals involved in distributing Christian literature.
Open Doors USA reports through a source who cannot be named for security reasons that border security is no longer the responsibility of the army.
“The NK secret service has taken over responsibility of guarding the borders from the army. They catch smugglers and force them to spy out Christian networks in China, especially those with ties to refugees,” the Open Doors source said.


Why Are Teens Leaving the Faith?

Growing up under the watchful eye of his parents, Eric* loved going to church. Like most kids, he loved the songs, his teachers, and playing with his friends. But even for a kid, church wasn't just a social thing for Eric. He could clearly remember the summer of third grade during Vacation Bible School when he gave his whole heart to Jesus. He was baptized shortly after.

For Eric, Jesus and the Bible weren't things you had to figure out or question. He had a child-like faith. He knew Jesus loved him and would walk with him throughout his life. The Bible was the moral compass by which he would live his life.
A few years later as Eric hit adolescence, his parents thought he would continue to grow in the faith of his childhood. He would discover even more deeply just how Jesus could make a difference to him in his high school years. He would see how his faith would define him.
But that's not what happened.

No fairy-tale ending

In the car on the way home from church one Sunday, Eric blurted out, "Why do we think we are right and everybody else is wrong about how to get to Heaven?" Over the coming weeks his questions turned to, "Is it fair that God would send everyone else to hell just because they don't know Jesus?" and "How do we know the Bible is real?" Pretty soon Eric didn't want to talk much on the way home from church and seemed agitated whenever anyone else would bring up faith in daily conversation.
It all came to a head when his parents asked him about his plans for the youth group's summer camp. Eric nonchalantly announced, "Mom, Dad, I think that stuff like church and Jesus is fine for you, but I'm just not sure if I believe all that anymore."

Discovery of self in Christ

Adolescence is the phase of life in which everything seems up for grabs. Teens discover new friendships, try out new interests, and develop new beliefs about everything from family to faith. For most, it's perfectly natural to gravitate toward a new passion one day but then drop a lifelong interest almost overnight.
A teen's faith is a big part in the puzzle of discovering his or her newly developing identity. Many parents struggle watching the forward-backward see-saw development of a teen's faith. For many teens, this journey of identity will result in a deeper faith. Except when it doesn't.

Why kids leave

Several studies have been conducted to answer that important question-why are they leaving? The results can be found in book such as "Sticky Faith," "Soul Searching," "Generation X-Christian," and "Almost Christian." All of them conclude that there is no one answer for a teen's exodus from the faith community. At the same time, the books cite similar reasons why some young adults walk away.

1. Shallow belief system

In her book "Almost Christian," Kenda Creasy Dean explains that many times, the Church offers nothing more than a "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism." In short, we've taught teens that there is a disinterested divine power who wants to give them personal peace and prosperity and to help teens "be nice." The result is a faith that cannot withstand the scrutiny of trials or intellectual questions. Parents and mentors have given teens an anemic sketch of faith at best. A robust faith is replaced by a code of conduct-we "do" these things (read our Bibles, pray, and go to church) and "don't" do those (watch wrong movies, cuss, drink or have sex). Conduct replaces relationship with Christ.

2. No room for doubt

Those who leave the faith sometimes do so because they had questions and the church didn't help answer them. In some cases, their questions were ignored. In others, doubt was considered a sin to be squelched quickly. Their questions varied from "Why do bad things happen to good people?" (intellectual doubt) to "If God cared about me, then I wouldn't feel so (depressed, sad, lonely, etc.)" (emotional doubt) to "Why do Christians not believe in evolution?" "Why does the Bible contradict itself?" to "Why didn't God answer my prayer for my parents not to divorce?" (experiential doubt). These are the types of questions the intellectual doubter needs to answer. Unfortunately, many times they either get poor answers from Christians or bad answers (which can sound convincing) from outside the Christian faith.

3. Exclusive faith

Scripture makes no apologies for the centrality of Christ. Those who turn to Christ in faith are saved. Those who do not are condemned to hell. In a culture that lauds tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness, claiming Christ as the only Way (John 14:6) is a hard truth to swallow. Unfortunately, many well-meaning believers twist this truth into a club to verbally (and physically) bash those with viewpoints different than theirs. Unfortunately, Christianity is often equated with bigotry, racism, homophobia, and sexism. Today's generation wants nothing to do with that brand of faith.

4. No answers for opposition

Today's teens are bombarded with philosophical and scientific oppositions to Christian beliefs. In science class, the teacher rails against anyone who believes in creation; the philosophy professor tells a freshman class to "prove the existence of God." Most Christians are completely unprepared to provide logical, coherent, well-examined reasons for their belief in Christianity. When faced with opposition, these teens find that the answer is simple: you can't be a Christian and an intellectual. Faith and science are incompatible.


Compassion helps foster care kids cope

It is well documented that children in foster care have a high prevalence of trauma in their lives. For many, circumstances that bring them into the foster care system are formidable—sexual abuse, parental neglect, family violence, homelessness, and exposure to drugs. In addition, they are separated from biological family and some are regularly moved around from one place to another.
“Children with early life adversity tend to have elevated levels of inflammation across their lifespan,” explains lead author Thaddeus Pace, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.

“Inflammation is known to play a fundamental role in the development of a number of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer, and depression.”
Published in the journals Psychoneuroendocrinology and Child and Family Studies, the study found that adolescents who practiced Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) had improvements in their mental and physical health—reductions in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP), less anxiety, and increased feelings of hopefulness. The more the study participants practiced, the greater the improvement observed in these measures.
“The beneficial effects of CBCT on anxiety and feelings of hopelessness suggest that this intervention may provide immediate benefit to foster children,” says Charles Raison, corresponding author of the study in Psychoneuroendocrinology, now at the University of Arizona.
“We are even more encouraged by the finding that CBCT reduced levels of inflammation. Our hope is that CBCT may help contribute to the long-term health and well being of foster care children, not only during childhood, but also as they move into their adult years.”


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mysterious Sounds Worldwide Lead to New Viral Internet Video

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., July 23, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- A fascinating short-clip video documentary on unexplained, trumpet-like sounds will very shortly reach 100,000 views on YouTube. The video was created by James L. Paris, Editor In Chief of ChristianMoney.com. 

Paris also writes a monthly newsletter on Bible prophecy, the Bible Prophecy & Survival Report. Paris believes that his video offers irrefutable evidence that something highly unusual is happening worldwide that cannot be explained. "We don't know exactly what these sounds are but they cannot be ignored," said Paris on Monday morning. Paris' video provides examples of these strange sounds, news reports, and a full length interview with Bible prophecy expert L.A. Marzulli. The video can be located on YouTube under the search phrase "Strange Trumpet Sounds" or navigated to directly at www.strangetrumpetsounds.com.
Christian Newswire

Answer to Aurora Shootings Isn't Gun Control but God-Connection

LUFKIN, Texas, July 24, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- "It's not about guns, but sin," said Vision America Action President Dr. Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist Minister, referring to the shootings at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, where 12 died and more than 60 were wounded. 

"Many in our society, and especially many liberals, refuse to recognize the existence of evil," Scarborough explained. "Since they believe individuals aren't responsible for their actions -- that everything is determined by heredity or environment -- they flail about for explanations to mass murder, like 'easy access to firearms, or impoverished environment, including lack of education or access to opportunity.' But in Aurora, like Columbine more than a decade ago, the shooter had every opportunity and was well-educated. Still, he chose to shoot innocent men, women and children, and only killed 12 because of God's intervention. A fact no one seems willing to acknowledge." 

Scarborough continued: "Rick Warren stated the obvious when he tweeted within hours of the tragedy, 'When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.' Congressman Louie Gohmert essentially agreed when he stated: 'People say... where was God in all of this? We've threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God's name, they're going to be jailed... I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don't want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.'" 

"How did the mainstream media react to such truth?," Scarborough asked. "Both men are being maligned and lesser men are refusing to speak up. The fact is that, as a culture, we have sown the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind. If people of good will and conscience do not stand up and demand that God be acknowledged once again in the public square, we are destined to continue our slide toward Gomorrah." 

Scarborough disclosed: "We know the man in custody for these horrendous crimes was, until quite recently, a student in the prestigious neuroscience doctoral program at the University of Colorado. But intelligence isn't a safeguard against evil. Some of the brightest men in Germany conceived and carried out the Holocaust." 

"Christians understand that there is evil in the world, and that -- as society turns its back on God -- His hedge of protection is lowered and evil grows stronger," Scarborough explained. 

"As our society has become more corrupt -- as Americans have rejected Biblical truth -- evil has flourished. The spate of these seemingly senseless mass murders -- Columbine, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, and Tucson -- are committed against a backdrop of 1.2 million abortions a year, 40% of all children in this country born out-of-wedlock and the ongoing war against our Judeo-Christian heritage." 

"The answer isn't gun control but revival," Scarborough declared. "That's why a growing group of spiritual and political leaders have joined together to launch 40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA -- a time for all of us to pray, fast and turn to God in repentance, for only He can save our nation and reverse the downward spiral we are in." 

For more information on the 40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA, go towww.40daystosaveamerica.com. For information about Vision America Action, go to www.visionamericaaction.us. 

To schedule an interview with Dr. Scarborough, founder and president of Vision America Action and leader of the 40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA, contact Janet Cook at             936-560-3900       or janet@visionamerica.org.
Christian Newswire

Christians Uprising to Take Back Hollywood

Christian Professionals in the film industry are rallying together to reclaim Hollywood for Jesus Christ.
LOS ANGELES, July 23, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- For years, Hollywood dictated the moral compass of the nation, openly rejected religious films, and offered little family friendly value. This is nothing new. Christians have been attempting to penetrate Hollywood for as long as anyone can remember to no avail. But if you are one of the people that have been praying for the entertainment industry, your prayer is showing fruit. The Christians among the film industry are passionate to bring change to Hollywood and are coming together to reclaim it for Jesus Christ. Hence, came the birth of the Pan Pacific Film Festival. 

Pan Pacific Film Festival, or PPFF, is an annual faith-based film festival in the neighboring communities of Hollywood. It is a place where Christian filmmakers can now benefit from a Hollywood forum where they can showcase their creative talent and help spread their positive message in a grander scale. 

"It's incredible what God is doing," Ken An, Founder of PPFF said, "We started out just wanting a place to screen Christian movies, but now PPFF is a home for all creative believers, a center for Christian professionals to work on their craft, and an international provider of high quality family faith friendly content." 

This year's festival is held at the Santa Anita Westfield mall in Arcadia, CA on October 18th -- 21st. Activities consist of film screenings of faith-based films, mini-concerts by Christian artists, workshops led by Hollywood producers, Christian talent search, and much, much more. The last night of the event will feature an Award Ceremony which has been referred by some as the "Academy Awards of Christian Films." The Ceremony honors the best films submitted to the film festival.

Just recently, PPFF has just launched a crowd-funding campaign through their partner, Ujimma. Ujimma is an exciting Christian crowd-funding start-up that provides a platform to connect Christian projects and those that want to be a part of their community. "We are very excited to partner with PPFF for this year's film festival. We both share and are passionate about empowering Christian creative talent with a forum to spread their wings." said Fernando Chavez, Founder of Ujimma. 

Through this crowd-funding campaign, any believer from around the world will be able to support Christian films and filmmakers in Hollywood! PPFF will be offering incentives such as autographed posters, lunch with the executives, and lots of other unique rewards for anyone who feels compelled to contribute. 

HURRY, IT IS NOT TOO LATE. If you have your own Christian content; share it with the world, visit www.ippff.com to submit your film. The last deadline is August 31st. 

Become a part of PPFF!
Christian Newswire