Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eric Scheidler Speaks June 8 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally

What I Learned from African Media Professionals

by Phil Cooke

Recently, Kathleen and I had the opportunity to be the keynote speakers at the annual conference for the Association of Christian Media in Johannesburg, South Africa. We had about 150 leaders in attendance, and some had to be turned away. The attendees represented a wide range of communicators across Africa, from radio, TV, print, Internet, social media, and more. The attendance was the largest in the organization’s history, and as usual, the incredible experience taught me a few things about using the media to share our faith with the world:
1) Major radio and TV networks need to think more locally. For instance, although there are many international TV networks like God-TV, TBN, SAT-7, and others, the most popular programs are often the most local. People like to see local leaders and ministries address concerns and issues they wrestle with in their area. Watching a major TV evangelist from the United States isn’t always what someone in the African bush can identify with. Local voices matter – and trust me – there are some good ones out there.
2) We should be more culturally sensitive. It’s such a waste when major American ministries broadcast their programs internationally with no changes for international viewers. The very reason MTV, CNN, Discovery, and other networks are so popular globally is that they localize and reflect the culture of the region. There is “MTV India,” “MTV Africa,” “MTV Russia,” and many other expressions of that network. Each one has local hosts and their branding reflects the appropriate region. We could learn something about that when it comes to religious broadcasting.
3) Internationally, we need more women’s voices. Over and over, Africans affectionally call Joyce Meyer: “Auntie Joyce.” They love her because in her program, they see a strong woman express her faith in God, and comment on the many challenges of daily living. So many global cultures are patriarchal, so it’s a powerful thing for them to hear from a female perspective. I’m told that in many Muslim cultures, once the husband has left for work, their wives watch Joyce’s program in secret because they’re so desperate to hear from a female leader. (Talk about an opportunity for evangelism.)
4) Stop producing and start partnering. So often we think of other countries as needing our help, when the opposite is true. They understand the need far better than us, and are already producing some remarkably innovative programming to meet those needs. Just as other countries are sending missionaries to the United States, they’re also often leading the way in communications – especially when it comes to mobile platforms. Let’s stop thinking we’re the only answer, and start partnering with these young communicators to help them reach their cultures more effectively.


Suicidal Girl Finds God And Tells Her Story

Queens Thief Didn’t Count on Missionaries

The thief who snatched a taupe, buckle-covered bag from a young woman with a glossy black ponytail and designer sunglasses on Thursday afternoon in Queens might have thought it would be an easy crime.

His well-dressed mark was strolling in Jackson Heights, on a bare and blighted pedestrian plaza near 37th Road, off Broadway, around 1:55 p.m. It seemed he could make a getaway through the thin crowd.
He most likely did not expect the firefighter who came sprinting after him, throwing him off balance. Or the two strapping church missionaries, young men visiting from North Carolina, who hurtled into the fray and tackled him to the ground. 

But none of them counted on the purse snatcher having a gun. 

One missionary, Andre Aganbi, 19, a student at Duke University, had spent the day on the plaza with his church group peers from Durham, reading the Bible and chatting with passers-by about God. “We were sitting right there, so I just jumped up, and as he tripped, I threw him to the ground,” he said.
Mr. Aganbi, who pounced on the man along with Mark Haywood, 21, from the church group, said he had glimpsed something polished and brown in the pocket of the man’s cargo pants.
“He started slowly reaching for his pocket,” Mr. Aganbi said. “By the time I thought about it, he grabbed the gun, pointed it at someone who was behind him, lifted it up and shot it, and ran.”
The police said on Thursday night that the suspect was still at large. 

The someone behind the gunman was a firefighter from Engine 287, who happened to be on the corner of the plaza and had sprinted with others after the man, his radio across his chest.
The shot came so close, it left graze marks on the firefighter’s shorts, said Richard Torres, a firefighter with Engine 287 who was also at the scene. The round hit a cellphone shop.
Within 10 minutes, the police had roped off the area. On the trash-strewn plaza, which had been cleared of people, behind a barricade of yellow caution tape, a bullet hole and the shooter’s navy baseball cap remained. 

And the young missionaries. 

Their arms around each other in a prayer circle, they stood by as their two friends were taken aside for questioning by detectives. With an almost eerie level of calm, each of the young people thanked the Lord.
“If anything had happened to Andre or Mark, they would be going to heaven, and they would be rejoicing with our Lord, because they trust in Christ so completely,” said Katharine Batchelor, 18, who was traveling with her peers on an eight-week mission from the Summit, a Southern Baptist church based in Raleigh, N.C.
Her voice trembled. “It’s just a beautiful thing,” she said. 

Ex-Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Turned Pro-Life Activist Aims to Help Other Abortion Industry Workers

( – More than 6,000 people took part in a webcast on Monday to launch a program to help people who want to leave their jobs in the abortion industry.
The program is a new, nonprofit ministry, “And Then There Were None,” and is the brainchild of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who left her post in 2009 after witnessing a 13-week-old unborn baby die during an ultra-sound guided abortion.
Johnson wrote a book about the challenge of defecting from a powerful organization like Planned Parenthood, “Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Journey Across the Life Line.”
Now she wants to help others who have had a similar change of heart and fear repercussions from their former employer, like the failed attempt by Planned Parenthood to take legal action against Johnson.
“If you defect from our organization, if you betray us, if you leave us then this could be you sitting in a courtroom having to defend yourself,” Johnson said was the message Planned Parenthood was sending. “And for a lot of people, that’s very, very scary.”
The mission of “And then There Were None” is described as “No abortion clinic workers, no abortion clinics, no abortions.”


Christian Vindicated After Buffalo Police Threaten Arrest for Sharing Faith

Gregory Owen won’t be kicked out of this year’s Italian Festival for handing out religious material—but it took a court order to make it happen.
In 2011, Buffalo, N.Y., police threatened to arrest Owen for peacefully sharing his faith on the public streets and sidewalks during the festival. Police ordered Owen to leave the festival, which was free and open to the public, if he intended to continue handing out Christian literature. One officer also threatened to arrest him.
People of faith shouldn’t be threatened with arrest for peacefully expressing their beliefs,” says Nate Kellum, chief counsel with the Center for Religious Expression and one of more than 2,100 attorneys in the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). “The city has done the right thing in allowing Gregory to peacefully speak with willing passers-by and hand out literature this year, just as the Constitution allows.”
Here's the backstory: Owen, together with a friend and members of his family, walked up and down Hertel Avenue during the 2011 Greater Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival to hand out Christian literature and discuss his faith with willing passers-by.
Although the road is a public street in a section of town known as “Little Italy,” police approached Owen and told him to leave under threat of arrest, claiming that his speech violated an agreement with festival organizers. As one officer told the man, “If you hand out one more tract, you’re going to jail.”


Romney Leads in Wisconsin

Mitt Romney now leads President Obama for the first time in Wisconsin where the president's support has fallen to its lowest level to date. 
The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Romney with 47% of the vote to Obama’s 44%. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Prior to this survey, Obama's support in the state has ranged from 45% to 52%, while Romney has earned 41% to 45%. Last month, the numbers were Obama 49%, Romney 45%. The president led his likely Republican challenger by 11 points in March - 52% to 41%.
Just last week Republican Governor Scott Walker won a special recall election prompted by Democrats outraged over his successful move to limit collective bargaining rights for some unionized public employees in order to reduce Wisconsin's budget deficit.
Most voters (51%) in the state view public employee unions unfavorably, while 46% share a favorable opinion of them. This includes 33% with a Very Unfavorable view of the unions and 27% with a Very Favorable one. The president draws overwhelming support from voters who view public employee unions favorably, while Romney draws equally heavy support from those who view them unfavorably.
Forty-seven percent (47%) of voters in Wisconsin approve of the job Obama is doing, while 52% disapprove. These findings include 27% who Strongly Approve of the president’s job performance and 44% who Strongly Disapprove. These ratings are comparable to those measured nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
Romney is viewed favorably by 49% of Wisconsin voters and unfavorably by 45%. These numbers include Very Favorable reviews from 23% and Very Unfavorable ones by 30%.