The Monthly Update


April 2006


Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

- C. T. Studd, 1860-1931; missionary to China, India, and Africa

* * * * *

The Good Stuff. To Kill an American

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American isÖso they would know when they found one. (Good one, mate!!!!)

"An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.

In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world.

The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. It's been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American."

- Written by an Australian Dentist; received by e-mail.

Life Issues. Jason McElwain and Respect for Life

You may not know his name, but you have probably seen Jason McElwain in action. A recent videotape of his basketball exploits has touched an entire nation.

I pray that it does more than that.

McElwain, a senior at Greece Athena High School in upstate New York, is autistic. Like many autistic persons, he didnít speak until he was five years old and has limited social skills. These didnít stop him from serving as student manager of the basketball team. In two years, Jason never missed a game, practice, or workout. Coach Jim Johnson and the players wanted to reward McElwain for his dedication by letting him play in at least one game.

With four minutes left in the last game of the season, Jason entered the game to deafening cheers. After missing his first two shots, Jason hit six three-pointers, including one that seemed to be launched from a different zip code, and wound up as the gameís high scorer with twenty points.

After the buzzer, the crowd rushed the floor, and his teammates carried Jason off on their shoulders. Coach Johnson called what happened "as touching as any moment I have ever had in sports." Sportswriter Mike Lupica called it "as perfect a sports moment [as] . . . any of us will ever know about." The tape, which aired almost everywhere, made an autistic kid from upstate New York "the most famous basketball player anywhere."

While watching the news reports, I felt great for Jason and his family. As the grandfather of an autistic child, it was wonderful to see a reminder that these wonderful kids can be helped and can exceed our expectations. But, as a Christian, I was struck by a savage irony: At the same time that Americans were touched by one disabled child, countless disabled children in the West face annihilation.

For example, in the Netherlands, medical protocols allow for the killing of disabled infants. As Wesley Smith points out, "disabled" includes Down syndrome, hemophilia, and other conditions that donít prevent people from living happy lives. All that matters is that the childís death "serves the interests of their families."

Here in the United States, children with Down syndrome have been systematically "targeted for elimination." A combination of amniocentesis, abortion, and pressure from physicians has made bearing a child with Down syndrome an heroic act. Given this track record, can anyone seriously doubt what will happen as more disabilities can be detected through genetic screening? The pressures to abort children with possible disabilities will be immense. Just last Sunday, the New York Times Magazine had a chilling story about doctors being sued for "wrongful birth" because they have failed to warn the mother of defects in time for her to get an abortion.

It would be a shame if the sentimentality over the Jason story blinded us to the most important lessons we can learn from kids like Jason: What makes their lives worth celebrating is not what they do; itís who they are. For me, what really mattered most was the love and respect shown to Jason by both his teammates and the crowd.

Itís a model for how all life should be treated, and anything less is missing the point altogether.

- Received by e-mail. Breakpoint, Chuck Colson; March 15, 2006.

Of Interest.

+ Happenings around the Church, Book by Dr. Riley Case

Turning Around the Mainline is the title of a new book by Dr. Thomas C. Oden, ecumenist, retired professor from Drew, and Confessing Movement board member. The book discusses the serious problems that exist in the "mainline denominations," identified as Evangelical Lutheran Church, Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, American Baptist Church, and Disciples of Christ. Since 1965 the Disciples have lost 57% of their membership, the Presbyterians 44%, the United Church of Christ 37%, and the Episcopal Church 36%. The United Methodist Church has a lower loss rate than the others (if that is any consolation) with 25%.

Those churches are characterized not only by church leadership entrenched in liberal theology, by an emphasis on social action that depreciates sound doctrine and evangelistic concern, but also by an unwillingness to open their seminaries and their positions of influence to any kind of evangelical presence. In Odenís words, they are "imploding" (collapsing from within). The inability (or refusal) of their leadership to change has demoralized churches and pastors and made them seem irrelevant to the world.

Yet, Oden urges persons who might otherwise be discouraged to stay the course. Division, he says, is not the answer, but renewed emphasis on the historic faith that holds us together. Oden identifies numbers of confessing church movements in the several denominations that are seeking to uphold the historic faith of the churches. He also speaks of the importance of these groups working together. God has not forsaken the mainline churches and Oden encourages us to work for their renewal.

This book is new off the press (February 2006). It can be ordered through Cokesbury or through Baker Books.

Received by E-mail from one of our associates.

+ Membership in the United Methodist Church in the United States for 2004 was 8.1 million, a loss of 66,402 people, or 0.82 percent, over 2003, according to GCFA statistics.

- Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (UMNS); 090; February 16, 0206.

+ United Methodists plan annual sessions

United Methodists worldwide are preparing for their annual gatherings, where they will examine issues facing the church and strengthen their spiritual life together. In 122 regional areas across the globe, United Methodists will meet to approve budgets, receive reports from conference boards and agencies, review ministries, adopt policy and programs of mission and ministry and pass resolutions. The church has 11 million members worldwide.

The 63 regional U.S. gatherings will begin May 10-13 when the Troy Annual Conference convenes in Burlington, Vt., and will conclude June 25 with the adjournment of the California-Pacific Annual Conference in Redlands, Calif.

Annual conference meeting dates and places are:

U.S. Annual Conferences

North Central Jurisdiction

Dakotas, June 7-10, Watertown, S.D.

Detroit, May 19-21, Adrian, Mich.

East Ohio, June 19-22, Lakeside, Ohio

Illinois Great Rivers, June 8-11, Peoria, Ill.

Iowa, June 8-11, Ames, Iowa

Minnesota, May 30-June 2, Saint Cloud, Minn.

North Indiana, June 1-3, West Lafayette, Ind.

Northern Illinois, June 11-14, St. Charles, Ill.

South Indiana, June 8-10, Bloomington, Ind.

West Michigan, June 1-4, Grand Rapids, Mich.

West Ohio, June 11-14, Lakeside, Ohio

Wisconsin, June 11-14, Middleton, Wis.

Northeastern Jurisdiction

Baltimore-Washington, May 25-27, Baltimore

Central Pennsylvania, June 8-10, Grantham, Pa.

Eastern Pennsylvania, June 21-23, Philadelphia

Greater New Jersey, June 1-3, King of Prussia, Pa.

New England, June 7-10, Wenham, Mass.

New York, June 7-10, Hempstead, N.Y.

North Central New York, June 2-4, Liverpool, N.Y.

Peninsula-Delaware, June 9-11, Princess Anne, Md.

Troy, May 10-13, Burlington, Vt.

West Virginia, June 8-11, Buckhannon, W.Va.

Western New York, June 9-11, Buffalo, N.Y.

Western Pennsylvania, June 15-18, Grove City, Pa.

Wyoming, June 1-3, Scranton, Pa.

South Central Jurisdiction

Arkansas, June 11-14, Hot Springs, Ark.

Central Texas, June 4-7, Waco, Texas

Kansas East, May 31-June 3, Baldwin City, Kan.

Kansas West, May 24-26, Salina, Kan.

Louisiana, June 4-7, Shreveport, La.

Missouri, June 9-12, Springfield, Mo.

Nebraska, June 14-17, Kearney, Neb.

New Mexico, May 31-June 3, Glorieta, N.M.

North Texas, June 4-7, Plano, Texas

Northwest Texas, June 7-10, Midland, Texas

Oklahoma, May 29-June 1, Tulsa, Okla.

Oklahoma Indian Missionary, June 8-11, Anadarko, Okla.

Rio Grande, June 1-4, Abilene, Texas

Southwest Texas, June 7-10, Corpus Christi, Texas

Texas, May 28-June 1, Houston

Southeastern Jurisdiction

Alabama-West Florida, June 4-7, Mobile, Ala.

Florida, June 1-3, Lakeland, Fla.

Holston, June 11-14, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Kentucky, June 6-8, Bowling Green, Ky.

Memphis, June 4-7, Paducah, Ky.

Mississippi, June 11-14, Jackson, Miss.

North Alabama, June 1-3, Birmingham, Ala.

North Carolina, June 14-17, Greenville, N.C.

North Georgia, June 13-16, Athens, Ga.

Red Bird Missionary, May 12-13, Beverly, Ky.

South Carolina, June 4-7, Orangeburg, S.C.

South Georgia, June 4-7, Savannah, Ga.

Tennessee, June 11-13, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Virginia, June 11-14, Hampton, Va.

Western North Carolina, June 8-11, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Western Jurisdiction

Alaska Missionary, May 26-28, Anchorage, Alaska

California-Nevada, June 13-17, Sacramento, Calif.

California-Pacific, June 20-25, Redlands, Calif.

Desert Southwest, June 8-11, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Oregon-Idaho, June 7-10, Nampa, Idaho.

Pacific Northwest, June 14-17, Tacoma, Wash.

Rocky Mountain, June 21-24, Greenwood Village, Colo.

Yellowstone, June 7-10, Billings, Mont.

Central Conferences

Those conferences outside the United States:

Austria Provisional, May 17-21, Vienna, Austria

Bicol Philippines Provisional, April 6-9 Naga City, Philippines

Bulgaria Provisional, Sept. 18-22, (to be determined)

Central Congo, July 10-16, Katako-Kombe, Democratic Republic of Congo

Central Luzon Philippines, May 4-7, Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines

Central Russia, June 21-23, Moscow

Czech & Slovak Republics, May 25-28, Plzen, Czech Republic

East Congo, July 24-30, Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo

East Mindanao Philippines, May 11-13, Tagum City, Philippines

Eastern Russia and Central Asia, May 4-6, Ekaterinburg, Russia

Germany East, May 17-21, Sehmatal-Cranzahl, Saxonia, Germany

Germany North, May 3-7, Eberswalde, Germany

Germany South, May 11-14, Gerlingen & Boblingen, Germany

Hungary, April 18-22, Miskolc, Hungary

Liberia, Feb. 13-19, Niva County, Liberia

Mindanao Philippines, May 25-28, Kidapawan City, Philippines

North Central Philippines, March 24-26, Ilagan, Isabela, Philippines

Northeast Luzon Philippines, March 3-5, Ramon, Isabela, Philippines

Northeast Philippines, May 11-14, Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Northern Philippines, April 28-30, Gattaran, Cagayan, Philippines

Northwest Mindanao Philippines, May 4-7, Sta. Cruz, Philippines

Northwest Philippines, April 20-23, San Nicolas, Pangasian, Philippines

Northwest Russia Provisional, May 18-20, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Oriental & Equator, August 9-4, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo

Pangasinan Philippines, May 25-28, San Carlos City, Pangasinan, Philippines

Poland, June 9-11, Grudziaz, Poland

Serbia-Montenegro/Rep. Macedonia, Oct. 18-22, Strumica, Macedonia

Southern Russia, May 25-27, Voronezh, Russia

Switzerland-France, June 15-18, Winterthur, Switzerland

Tarlac Philippines, March 10-12, Tarlac City, Philippines

Ukraine & Moldova, May 10-13, Kiev, Ukraine

Visayas Philippines, April 20-23, Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, Philippines

West Congo, Aug. 22-27, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

- By Linda Green, UMNS; Feb. 13, 2006.

+ Ministry Releases Annual List of World's Worst Religious Oppressors

Open Doors USA has released its annual "World Watch List" (WWL) of 50 nations where Christians face the most

intense hostility and harsh treatment because of their faith. The list ranks countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith; and for the fourth straight year, the communist nation of North Korea tops that list. Open Doors USA president Carl Moeller says North Korea is the most repressive nation in the world, and Christians bear the brunt of that repression. It is believed that tens of thousands of believers are suffering in North Korean prison camps, where these people of faith endure all manner of abuses and torture. "Christians [in North Korea] are singled out in many ways for their faith in Jesus Christ because they represent a threat to the state, as the state sees it," Moeller explains. "And Christians there can be just barbarically treated." For instance, the ministry spokesman notes, "If you're caught, as a Christian in North Korea, you can be thrown into a labor camp, a prison camp; but not only you: up to three generations of your family -- your parents and your children -- can be thrown into that same labor camp." It is possible, Moeller contends, that the communist government of North Korea has detained more political and religious prisoners than any country in the world. "I think we need to support our government's position that North Korea is one of the most horrifically repressive countries in the world and exert all pressure that we can -- politically and in other ways, economically -- on North Korea," he says.

"But there's one very particular thing that Christians can do that a government can't," the head of Open Doors USA adds. "We can pray. And as the Church, we must remember that it's our brothers and sisters who are suffering here, not just any kind of religious or political prisoners. These are family members for us."

Moeller urges prayer for believers in the other nations on the 2006 World Watch List as well, particularly those in nations where persecution is the most severe. This year, Saudi Arabia has taken the second spot on the World Watch List for the fourth consecutive year, and other nations in the top ten include Iran, Somalia, Bhutan, Yemen, Vietnam and China.

Open Doorsí World Watch List Rankings

Note: This is as of January 2006; the ranking in brackets [ ] after the countryís name is for January 2005 (last yearís ranking).

1. North Korea [1]

2. Saudi Arabia [2]

3. Iran [5]

4. Somalia [7

5. Maldives [6

6. Bhutan [8]

7. Vietnam [3]

8. Yemen [11]

9. Laos [4]

10. China [9]

11. Afghanistan [10]

12. Uzbekistan [15]

13. Turkmenistan [12]

14. Eritrea [16]

15. Comoros [14]

16. Pakistan [13

17. Egypt [18]

18. Myanmar (Burma) [17

19. Azerbaijan [22

20. Morocco [23

21. Brunei [24]

22. Libya [20]

23. Iraq [21]

24. Cuba [26]

25. Djibouti [30]

26. India [34]

27. Sudan [19]

28. Nigeria (North) [25]

29. Tajikistan [28]

30. Sri Lanka [29]

31. Russia (Muslim Rep) {1} [27]

32. Tunisia [32]

33. Qatar [33]

34. Nepal [35]

35. Indonesia [37]

36. Turkey [39]

37. Algeria [38]

38. Ethiopia [49]

39. Bangladesh [46]

40. Mauritania [40]

41. Kuwait [41]

42. United Arab Emirates [43]

43. Belarus [42]

44. Colombia (Conflict Areas) [36]

45. Oman [44]

46. Jordan [47]

47. Syria [45]

48. Mexico (South) {2} [31]

49. Philippines (South) {3} new

50. Kenya (Northeast) [48]

Notes:

{1} Muslim republics of the Russian Federation: Chechnya, Kabardino Balkarya, Dagestan and Tatarstan

{2} Southern Mexican state of Chiapas

{3} Mindanao

- By Allie Martin; AgapePress; March 8, 2006.

* * * * *

The only thing that is worse than salt that has lost its savor is pepper that has lost its pep.

Ė As quoted in The Daily Walk, September 21, 1994.

Global Outlook

I canít control the events in my life but I can control my reaction.

- LoveLights edited by Mrs. Betty Linthicum,, March-April, 2005

. * * * * *

Haiti.

"Greetings from Cap-Haitian, Haiti, in Jesus' name!  Dana and I would like to thank you all for your continuous and faithful support that we receive on time every month.  You are helping us to provide leadership training and support for our church, two Christian schools, our Bible training institute and our weekly radio teaching in French and French Creole via AM and satellite Internet.

We will be graduating our third promotion at our Bible institute this May, and are moving steadily towards planting new churches in the north of Haiti with some of our graduates.

  The political situation has calmed down somewhat at present with parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of April. 

Please pray for wisdom and a fresh supply of the Holy Spirit in our lives and ministry so that God might raise up a faithful generation of believers here in this troubled land."

For the Kingdom of God,

Pritchard and Dana Adams

Cap-Haitian, HAITI

- Received by e-mail. Note: Pritchard and Dana Adams are 2 missionaries doing a great work for the Lord.

Islam.

+ Kill Him, Says Moderate Mullah

Abdul Raoulf is considered a "moderate" cleric in Afghanistan. He was jailed three times for his opposition to the brutal Taliban. But he's out front today demanding that Christian convert Abdul Rahman be killed. "This man must die," was the chilling message from Raoulf. Yesterday Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she has raised this issue "in the strongest possible terms" with Afghan President Hamid Kharzai. Getting Rahman off on an insanity plea or getting him out of the country would miss the point. Is Afghanistan to be free or not? Simply changing the names of the regimes governing Afghanistan without changing their oppressive policies that deny basic human rights will never gain the support of the American people. Secretary Rice [issued a] strong statement. "There is no more fundamental issue for the United States than freedom of religion and religious conscience...it is at the heart of democracy," she said.

E-mail from the Family Research Council, Washington, DC; March 26, 2006.

+ A House on Sand?

[Commentary by the Family Research Council]

The Bush administration may be breathing a sigh of relief because the Afghan courts are said to be dismissing charges against Christian convert Abdul Rahman for lack of evidence. Last week it was reported that Abdul Rahman told authorities, "They want to sentence me to death and I accept it, but I am not a deserter and not an infidel. I am a Christian." Rahman has been courageous and unequivocal in his stand. This had not always been the case with our own State Department. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemed to minimize the importance of this case by saying that Afghanistan is a "young democracy." Religious liberty is indispensable. It will be no democracy in Afghanistan or Iraq if we simply exchange one set of murderous mullahs for another. Abdul Rahman's prison guards openly threaten to "cut him to pieces." When Sec. Rice noted that ours was not a perfect democracy at the start, she's surely right. But Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom of 1786 was carried by James Madison to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. When it comes to religious liberty, Americans got it right - - from the start. The Family Research Council raised alarms when U.S. diplomats brushed off protests over the "repugnancy" clauses in the Afghan and Iraqi constitutions. When those constitutions said nothing repugnant to Islam could be enacted, we knew that was a mortal threat to religious liberty. If Afghanistan or Iraq doesn't get it right now, American diplomats will build their democratic house on sand. - E-mail from the Family Research Council, Washington, DC; March 27, 2006.

* * * * *

Feelings are not facts.

LoveLights edited by Mrs. Betty Linthicum,, March-April, 2005


Published by Concerned Methodists, P.O. Box 2864, Fayetteville, NC 28302. Tel. 910/488-4379; FAX: 910/488-5090

Website: www.cmpage.org E-mail: office@cmpage.org