Blue Flower

1. Syria and the Middle East Today - 2013: a pivotal year

 2. How Protestant Missionaries developed Democratic Societies

3. Nominations for Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering 2015 

4. A huge Cross for Cental Australia?

5. More Than 2 Million Indicate Accepting Christ as Savior Through BGEA Operated Website in 2013

 6. Endeavour Forum Meeting Tonight in Melbourne

7.Abortion by the Numbers

 

1. Syria and the Middle East Today - 2013: a pivotal year

 

Elizabeth Kendal, 31 Jan 2014

Written especially for NACL, Elizabeth has given readers an up to date summaryoftheSunni-Shi'ite struggle for regional and Islamic supremacy.

The war in Syria is integral to the Sunni-Shi'ite struggle for regional and Islamic supremacy. The Sunnis may have reigned supreme for well over a millennium, but the US-led war in Iraq (commencing 2003) changed the balance of power, facilitating a Shi'ite ascendancy.

See: Religious Liberty Trends: Shi'ite Ascendancy(5 February 2007) & Religious Liberty Trends: 2007-2008-- under the subheading A word on the Middle East (15 February 2008).

Iraq's move into the Iranian orbit completed the "Shi'ite Crescent": the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezballah strategic alliance that enables Iranian influence to stretch all the way from Tehran to Israel's northern border and the Mediterranean Sea.

Subsequently, US influence in the Middle East declined -- plummeting after the financial crisis of Aug-Sept 2008 -- leaving US-allied Sunni Arab dictators increasingly isolated and vulnerable. Initially a movement to protest corruption and poor living standards, the "Arab Spring" was quickly hijacked by the region's most politically organised group: the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

The Obama administration's decision to ditch its allies in favour of the MB -- believing that support for Islamic "democracy" would put them "on the right side of history" -- brought angst to Riyadh, but joy to Tehran. For while Egypt's Mubarak had been aligned with the Sunni axis -- which consists of Sunni Arab US-backed monarchs and dictators that have signed peace treaties with Israel and host US military bases -- the Iranian axis comprises regimes that resist US hegemony and are belligerent towards Israel.[1][1]

While the Iranian regime was delighted by the rise of the MB, talk of a restoration of Ottoman and Saudi hegemony gave them pause for concern. Though Syria is a Sunni Arab-majority state, it has been ruled by a coalition of minorities since WWII.[2][2]In 1973 a Lebanese Shia cleric issued fatwa declaring the Alawi to be a sect of Shia Islam (rather than a heretical movement). Alliances with Iran and Hezballah provide the vulnerable Assad regime with protection from Sunni aggression. Conversely, Iran and Hezballah see Syria as their most strategic asset; they were never going to let Syria fall.[3][3]

On 5 June 2013, the situation in Syria pivoted dramatically when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) -- supported by fighters from Hezballah (Lebanon), Iraq and Iran -- liberated the strategic city of Al-Qusayr near the border with Lebanon. Whoever controls Al-Qusayr controls supply lines into Homs and the centre. The SAA had effectively changed the balance of power on the ground.

On 21 August 2013, Sarin gas was released in Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, just as the SAA's Operation Shield of the Capital was making great and highly strategic gains against rebels and CIA-trained Arab units there. There is absolutely no doubt that the rebels released the Sarin gas with the aim of triggering a US-NATO intervention on their behalf.

See, SYRIA: Who is Deploying Chemical Weapons?(28 Aug 2013).

However, as the Obama administration realised, US air strikes on Syria would totally ruin President Obama's much-heralded detente with new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. So the US backed off, abandoning the rebels to their fate. Rebel forces are now totally demoralised.

In early October, the SAA broke through the rebel encirclement of Aleppo, opening the road between Damascus and the northern city, enabling supply and liberating Christian and loyalist areas long-besieged by Islamist forces.

In November 2013, US-Iran rapprochement went ahead, horrifying Saudi Arabia. And so we enter 2014 with Iran ascendant once again. Without military support from the US, the rebels cannot achieve a military victory. Though fighting will subside, terrorism will continue for many years yet, especially if the rebels believe the West supports their cause.

As Assad consolidates his gains and secures his territory, al-Qaeda elements are changing tack and concentrating on carving out a base of operations in the Kurd and Christian dominated lands of north-eastern Syria and in the hot-bed of Sunni resistance that is Anbar Province, western Iraq.

Elizabeth Kendalis an international religious liberty analyst and prayer advocate.
She is the Director of Advocacy at Christian Faith and Freedom (Canberra) and an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths (CSIOF) at Melbourne School of Theology (MST). Her book -- Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
  (Deror Books, Dec 2012) -- applies a Biblical response to suffering and persecution to today's realities.

 

 

2. How Protestant Missionaries developed Democratic Societies 

The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries

They didn’t set out to change history. But one modern scholar’s research shows they did just that.

Andrea Palpant Dilley

8.1.2014 Christianity Today Cover Story

...Fourteen years ago, Robert Woodberry was a graduate student in sociology at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (UNC). The son of J. Dudley Woodberry, a professor of Islamic studies and now a dean emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary, started studying in UNC's respected PhD program with one of its most influential figures, Christian Smith (now at the University of Notre Dame). But as Woodberry cast about for a fruitful line of research of his own, he grew discontented.

"Most of the research I studied was about American religion," he says of early graduate school. "It wasn't [my] passion, and it didn't feel like a calling, something I could pour my life into."

One afternoon he attended a required lecture that brought his vocational drift to a sudden end. The lecture was by Kenneth A. Bollen, a UNC–Chapel Hill professor and one of the leading experts on measuring and tracking the spread of global democracy. Bollen remarked that he kept finding a significant statistical link between democracy and Protestantism. Someone needed to study the reason for the link, he said.

Woodberry sat forward in his seat and thought, That's me. I'm the one...

"[Woodberry] presents a grand and quite ambitious theory of how 'conversionary Protestants' contributed to building democratic societies," says Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of history at Baylor University. "Try as I might to pick holes in it, the theory holds up. [It has] major implications for the global study of Christianity."

"Why did some countries become democratic, while others went the route of theocracy or dictatorship?" asks Daniel Philpott, who teaches political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame. "For [Woodberry] to show through devastatingly thorough analysis that conversionary Protestants are crucial to what makes the country democratic today [is] remarkable in many ways. Not only is it another factor—it turns out to be the most important factor. It can't be anything but startling for scholars of democracy."

"I think it's the best work out there on religion and economic development," says Robin Grier, professor of economics and international and area studies at the University of Oklahoma. "It's incredibly sophisticated and well grounded. I haven't seen anything quite like it."

When Woodberry talks about his work, he sounds like a careful academic who doesn't want to overstate his case. But you also pick up on his passion for setting the record straight.

"We don't have to deny that there were and are racist missionaries," says Woodberry. "We don't have to deny there were and are missionaries who do self-centered things. But if that were the average effect, we would expect the places where missionaries had influence to be worse than places where missionaries weren't allowed or were restricted in action. We find exactly the opposite on all kinds of outcomes. Even in places where few people converted, [missionaries] had a profound economic and political impact."

The Nations' Educators

There is one important nuance to all this: The positive effect of missionaries on democracy applies only to "conversionary Protestants." Protestant clergy financed by the state, as well as Catholic missionaries prior to the 1960s, had no comparable effect in the areas where they worked.

Independence from state control made a big difference. "One of the main stereotypes about missions is that they were closely connected to colonialism," says Woodberry. "But Protestant missionaries not funded by the state were regularly very critical of colonialism."

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3. Nominations for Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering 2015 

 

We are currently looking for nominations of younger leaders who are between the age of 25 to 35 years old and who are already showing they have promise as future national or global leaders. YLG2015 will be held in the Kiev, Ukraine and whilst the dates haven’t been confirmed at this point in time it will be in July or August – just finalising the actual dates so they don’t conflict with other global meetings that will be taking place in 2015.

The profile of a younger leader:

·        Will have a significant voice for the church nationally or globally in the next decades

·        Have an early track record of achievement, an expanding sphere of influence, and exceptional intellectual capacity

·        Have exemplary character, vibrant spiritual life, and sacrificial service for the glory of God

·        Have a passionate vision for global evangelization and a kingdom mindset of cooperative ministry

·        Come from a representative sample of church, mission, academy, and marketplace vocations and are between 25-35 years old (recognizing there will be cultural exceptions)

The selection process will be rigorous and we trust participants will come from 200 countries. Nominations can be made via this link:

http://www.lausanne.org/en/gatherings/issue-based/ylg-2015/nomination-form.html

Questions can be directed to Daniel Williswholeads the process of bringing this YLG together at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

4. A huge Cross for Cental Australia?

"No bluff, Ken Duncan wants a light to lead second coming"

An artist's impression of Hat Hill with  a 20m lit cross as planned by photographer Ken  Duncan for the  Australian outback, `a Holy Spirit fire that starts in the centre and spreads across our nation' Source:Supplied

RIO has Christ the Redeemer -- now renowned photographer Ken Duncan wants to erect Australia's own towering monument to Christianity in the form of a 20m-high LED-lit cross in the "middle of nowhere", atop a mountain in the central Australian outback.

Visible for kilometres, the structure will be a focal point for anyone driving to Papunya or Haasts Bluff, about 230km west of Alice Springs, where the straight road meets a T-junction directly at the mountain's base.

"It will look like a cross floating in the night," Duncan says. "There will be a walk up there, so people can go up and pray."

The million-dollar project will require engineering works and a heli-crane to erect. Planning is well under way.

Duncan has made a household name for himself with his trademark, curiously irradiant landscape photographs, sold at tourist hotspots around the country.

While he is an enthusiastic Christian, he stresses the original idea for the project came from locals. It emerged during an Easter celebration involving indigenous people at a nearby memorial site for four dead evangelists.

"People were singing things to Jesus. It was quite an amazing event and things were happening, miracles were happening," Duncan says.

"Three people had a vision of building a cross on the top of the hill. I really believe it was true."

Duncan says the visionaries asked him for help and soon others were offering their services, too. Indigenous artist Alison Multa, from Haasts Bluff, was one of those who saw the cross in her mind.

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5. More Than 2 Million Indicate Accepting Christ as Savior Through BGEA Operated Website in 2013

By Jeremy Reynalds

Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service www.assistnews.net

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ANS) -- Approximately 10.5 million people worldwide in 2013 visited the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's (BGEA) http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/ website.

Image removed by sender.

Screen capture for www.PeaceWithGod.net

According to a news release from BGEA, more than 2 million of those individuals indicated making a commitment to Christ after viewing the message.

The evangelistic site, part of BGEA's Search for Jesus Internet ministry, uses Bible scripture, video presentations and live chats to share the Gospel with visitors to the site.

Since the site was launched in May 2011, more than 19 million people have viewed the Gospel presentation, with nearly 4 million responding to the message.

Additionally, hundreds of thousands have submitted their contact information to BGEA in order to receive follow up and ongoing training in their new faith.

"The numbers are hard to fathom, frankly. They're exciting, but difficult to really grasp or comprehend," said John Cass, BGEA's Director of Internet Evangelism, speaking in the news release.

He continued, "However, on a daily basis I get the opportunity to read through transcripts of the chats taking place between visitors! to our site and our trained volunteer counselors, and I c an tell you that the world is being impacted for Christ."

Cass added, "What we see as a number may be the Filipina woman working in a Chinese home when she stumbled upon the site and finally realized the truth of repentance and forgiveness. Or it may be the man in his 30's who was up early one morning to look at adult websites, but instead stumbled upon PeaceWithGod.net and ultimately gave his life to Christ. These people aren't just numbers, but real, hurting individuals who finally found hope."

The news release said the online ministry is strengthened by a network of more than 300 trained volunteers ranging in age from 20-somethings to octogenarians. They're from all walks of life and have committed to assist those looking for answers in life.

"They take the online interaction and make it a much more personal one-on-one experience," said Cass. "They chat with people on PeaceWithGod.net, guide them through a free online discipleship course, and respond t! o spiritual questions by e-mail."

Additional information on BGEA's Internet Evangelism efforts can be found at www.SearchforJesus.net.

Link

 

6. Endeavour Forum Meeting Tonight 

Celebrating our 35th Birthday

Tonight 7.30 pm, Friday, 31st January at the O'Hanlon Centre, Mitchell St., Mentone, Vic. 3194. The meeting will be chaired by Mr. David Perrin, President, Drug Advisory Council of Australia. Special guests: His Lordship Bishop Peter Elliott, DD, who will say the Opening Prayer, and Senator Cory Bernardi (Lib, SA) who will speak on "The Family in Australia". The Phyllis Schlafly awards will be presented by David Perrin & Babette Francis and the vote of thanks will be given by Mrs. Jenny Stokes, Research Director, Salt Shakers, and the Rev. Mark Durie, Anglican vicar of St. Mary's Caulfield will launch Senator Bernardi's book, "The Conservative Revolution".

The meeting will be followed by supper. All welcome, $10 donation appreciated. RSVP essential:

Mrs. Prue Oldham, (03) 9583 6835 or       Mrs. Margaret Butts, (03) 8588 1792

 

7. Abortion by the Numbers 

Bill Muehlenberg  Culture Watch

Abortion is the greatest killer known to man. No one of course knows how many babies have died at the hands of their own parents throughout history. And even since the dreadful day 41 years ago in America when Roe v Wadeset off a baby-killing tsunami around the world (January 23), the numbers are not fully clear.

But we have some ideas of the rough numbers, both in the US and globally. And the numbers are mind-numbing. We just can’t get a handle on the size, enormity and scope of these figures. What Hitler could not do, what major world wars could not do, we are doing all the time in the name of a woman’s right to choose.

The numbers just from America are utterly appalling. According to Randy O’Bannon of LifeNews there have been “56,662,169 abortions in America since Roe vs. Wadein 1973?. As they state in an email: “Each abortion is more than just a number — it’s a tiny baby whose life was snuffed out and a mother injured in the process. Each abortion is a father who will never experience the joy of holding his baby, watching his son play on the high school football team or watching his daughter graduate from college.

“If you run the math on those terrible figures, the numbers are absolutely chilling:
1.382 million abortions every year
115,167 abortions every month
26,577 abortions every week
3,786 abortions every day
157 abortions every hour
2.6 abortions every minute”

The article does mention the good news however that abortion numbers are declining in the US: “The long term trend is fewer abortions, and the number is down significantly from 1990 when the country saw 1.6 million abortions a year. As one measure of the impact your work has had, if the number of abortions had remained at 1.6 million, more than seven MILLION more babies would have died...

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[1][1]Some analysts believe the Iranian regime is belligerent towards Israel principally for political purposes. Historically, Iran has been allied to Israel against Sunni Arab aggression. And while the Saudis maintain peace with Israel and friendship with the West, that also is principally for political purposes -- and all the while they are spreading their toxic Wahhabi ideology worldwide and funding international Islamic jihad. Morsi's pro-Iran leaning was one reason why the Saudi regime backed the 3 July 2013 military coup in Egypt that ousted him from the presidency and the MB from power. A rapprochement between Gaza's Hamas and Iran is underway as I write.

[2][2]The Sunnis allied with the Nazi during WWII. After the war, the French empowered the minorities so as to keep the Sunnis in check.

[3][3]Had the Assad regime fallen, the Iranians would have done all in their power to draw the Syrian MB and al-Qaeda elements into the Iranian axis; and it probably wouldn't have been too difficult at all.