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Every weekend I evangelize on the streets together with the Pancake Church, and last week’s Holy Saturday was no exception. I started to speak with two guys about Jesus, and one of them said that he really liked Jesus. He thought that Jesus was a good moral teacher and said: “I believe that when it says that he healed blind people and lepers and stuff, he didn’t actually physically heal them, but he was kind to them and taught that they should be accepted into society.”
“That’s a very tragic and pessimistic view!” I said. “Wouldn’t it be better if He actually physically healed them? As the Son of God He’s surely able to do it, right? Miracles exist, medically verified healings happen all around the world even today. Surely that’s good news, isn’t it?” He was actually a bit speechless when I said this.
There has been a tendency among several Western preachers to de-emphasize miracles, Heaven and evangelism in order to “focus” on peace and justice. They may say things like “Jesus greatest miracle wasn’t to heal the leper but to touch the leper” or “God doesn’t just want to give you eternal life in Heaven but a descent life on earth.” (more…)
Based on the Nicene Creed as well as statements of faith from the Vineyard movement, Azusa Apostolic Faith Mission, the Jesus Army, the old Assemblies of God, Schelitheim Anabaptists and the Lausanne Covenant.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
The Holy Spirit and His Gifts
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Jesus Christ and that He is our abiding Helper, Teacher, and Guide. We believe in the filling or empowering of the Holy Spirit, often a conscious experience, for ministry today. We believe in the present ministry of the Spirit and in the exercise of all the biblical gifts of the Spirit. We practice the laying on of hands for the empowering of the Spirit, for healing, and for recognition and empowering of those whom God has ordained to lead and serve the Church. (more…)
As the extremely important COP 21 climate summit in Paris starts tomorrow, activists have taken it to the streets across the globe. I would had been marching in Paris today, had not the awful terrorist attacks happened, which has resulted in that protests are not allowed in the French capital for at least some weeks. Instead, I had praised God and retweeted reports from Sweden, Australia, Bangladesh, US, Japan, Nepal, Senegal, Switzerland and the UK:
The last image is especially powerful: it’s from Paris, where activists have laid out shows to signify the march that never took place there. Let us pray for the upcoming negotiations and that God’s Spirit will promote simplicity and equality.
For many years my primary motivation for engaging in creation care and climate activism has been the fact that environmental destruction in general kills millions of people already and that climate change in particular will most likely kill off hundreds of millions of people in the near future. Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.
Of course, not all scientists are saying that we will become extinct because of this. While it is universally acknowledged that many other species will be terminated just as we have already killed off half of the world’s animals since 1970, and that humans are already dying because of climate change, whether we will commit communal suicide through our carbon emissions is not as clear. One of the main factors for this is that we’re not even sure how we will respond to the climate crisis, will there truly be an ambitious treaty in Paris that can turn the ships around, or will we just do business as usual until it is too late?
One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas. These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus. (more…)
Earlier this summer when I was preparing my lecture Jesus vs Xenohpobia, I went to my favourite Bible study site biblehub.com and searched the Scriptures for the word “refugee”. Two passages touched me in a special way, both being from prophet Isaiah’s book.
Isaiah 16:3-4 says: “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.” This is in the middle of a prophecy against Moab, that warns the kingdom for an upcoming disaster. In the previous chapter, God says: “My heart cries out over Moab; her fugitives flee as far as Zoar, as far as Eglath Shelishiyah. They go up the hill to Luhith, weeping as they go; on the road to Horonaim they lament their destruction.” (Is 15:5).
It is thus clear that even though this catastrophe is described as being the result of God’s judgment due to the idolatry of the Moabite people, He still cares for them and wants people to give them shelter from the ones who destroy them. Even people who do not worship the Lord still deserves love, care and humanitarian aid. (more…)
Right now I’m at a Christian conference called Salvation, Miracles and Activism in my hometown of Uppsala, and I’m one of the organisers. It’s not a conference in a big auditorium; but just like my church we meet in the streets and in my home. We’re about fifteen people; if we had been more we would have met in several homes at once. Yesterday we started things off with a Jesus meeting in the city park, and afterwards we went to my place to watch the epic trailer for my upcoming documentary and plan today’s activities.
The theme of the conference is how to combine evangelism, Spiritual gifts and activism for peace and justice. We’re talking about these things in my living room right now, and in the afternoon we will do a demonstration for the Act Alliance campaign Act for Climate Justice, and in the evening we will evangelise together with the Pancake Church. Tomorrow we will have a “Come in, go out”-service with my church Mosaik.
For the last two months, a friend of mine have contacted me almost every day, asking me for money. I trust her and know that she is in genuine need, but sending money via Western Union is so costly, and I am genuinely surprised that not a single soul in Coventry, UK, is giving her the help she needs. I’m very disappointed with the British churches, they have so far failed miserably when it comes to helping a mother in need.
I got to know Denisa when she was begging on the streets of Uppsala, Sweden, where I live. Being originally from Romania as most beggars in our town, she spoke very good English. It turned out that her mother lived in Coventry and that Denisa had studied there, but when her mother ran out of money she went to Sweden to beg.
Because of her language skills she actually got a job here that lasted until summer 2014. Then she and her husband Mugurel were begging for some months before they moved to Romania for a brief period of time. Having no source of income there, they then travelled to Coventry even though they had hardly any money and no income.
Two months ago Denisa gave birth to their first child. She contacted me and said that she needed money to get a place to stay and money for food. I helped her with the rent costs and asked her to go to the Jesus Centre in Coventry, run by the Jesus Army. She went there several times, but unfortunately they hardly helped her. I’m not surprised that they couldn’t give her money or housing (which she initially hoped for) but at least I expected them to help her with food. I mean, here’s a mother with a newborn child with no source of income at all!
However, they told me from the Jesus Centre that they could only give food on Tuesdays. And when she did get food there was no baby food at all, even though they knew that she had a baby. That’s just plain ridiculous, unworthy of a social centre that bears Jesus’ holy name.
So I send her money for food, but since I’m helping a lot of other families here in Sweden I’m running out of funds myself. And I don’t get how there is nobody in Coventry that can make sure that an infant won’t starve. I’ve tried to contact other churches but there has been no sufficient response. And so Denisa is contacting me almost every day on Facebook simply writing:
“Can you help me because I do not have food”
If you live in Coventry or at least the UK and want to help Denisa somehow, just call her on 07824070060. I especially pray that my friends at the Jesus Army will understand the seriousness of this situation.
I attended a 48-hours prayer meeting a couple of years back in Stockholm, and during a worship session a dear friend of mine approached me, asking me to pray for her so that she may receive the same passion for the poor that the Lord has given me. I was so glad that this was what she wanted, but as I started praying I realized that it would be impossible for her to have the same passion as I have without feeling the pain and suffering of making sacrifices, knowing more about the horrible face of poverty and realizing how many it is that do not get help.
This was why I became an activist in the first place – I realized that innocent people were dying while I was playing video games and dreamt of getting a car and a house. I just prayed that God would make it impossible for my friend to close her eyes to the suffering of the poor, and that she would partake in their suffering.
I don’t know if she ever got the same passion for them as I have, at least she’s not revealing it as clearly on Facebook 🙂 But there and then I think we both realized that this was truly what was necessary for passion. When we follow Christ, a cross is always attached. As He Himself said:
“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:27, 31-33)
One of my favourite Pentecostal saints of all times is Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), Indian activist, evangelist and holy roller. Over a hundred years before Malala she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and discriminated. Born in a Brahmite family in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study in an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hinduist texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial since she lacked a penis, but her father encouraged her as she learned more and more about society, religion and activism.
In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. There she was saved. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”
As she returned to her home country, she bought a piece of land outside Pune and started a Christian social community for young widows called Mukti, Sanskrit for Liberation. She also helped people who were orphaned, disabled or homeless, and when a famine hit India in 1896, Ramabai rescued over a thousand people and brought many if them to the Mukti mission.
Praise God for Heidi and Rolland Baker! These wonderful missionaries in Mozambique are so passionate about the love of the Father, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, and their missionary organization Iris Global has experienced glorious revival for the last 20 years. Their Christmas greeting above was published a few days after Christmas (probably because of the amazingly beautiful editing) but who cares about that when the video is a masterpiece when it comes to inspiration, passion and faith?
Heidi shares how 2014 has been a challenge for Iris because of the horrible floods in Mozambique, but she is amazed by how God used countless radical disciples to serve, encourage and relieve the suffering population and bring the Gospel of hope and life. As I’ve written before on this blog, Iris experiences amazing miracles like the blind seeing and the deaf hearing while helping the poor and vulnerable with good, serious development assistance.
Since I’m a monthly donor to Iris I also got a physical Christmas greeting from the Bakers, this postcard with a nice worship CD. The reason they send their supporters worship music is so that their love for Jesus may increase, they say. I love it. They’re just great. God bless them!
I got some horrible news for you. Because of lack of funding from UN member countries, the World Food Programme has suspended their food voucher scheme to 1.7 million Syrian refugees. WFP has warned for this risk for several months, without getting a sufficient reaction. Now, there’s no money left. The consequences for the refugees and the countries that host them will obviously be disastrous.
The sad thing is that the problem is not that costs turnes to be higher than expected, but that donor countries simply has ont given what they have promised to give. WFP is urgently calling on donors to live up to what they have committed: (more…)
Recently I’ve noticed how several politicians try to argue that helping the poor does not help the poor. In the Swedish town of Linköping the train station has forbidden homeless Romas to stay in their facilities – they’ve even blocked the electric sockets to stop them from charging their phones. Joakim Kärnborg from Linköping municipality defends this decision by saying: “I think we would do the migrants a disservice by isolating them in a warm and cosy place to be in.”
Meanwhile in Florida, a 90-year-old Christian man who is helping the poor through an organization called Love Thy Neighbor, was arrested the other day. His crime was that he was giving food to the homeless. I kid you not, an officer shouted “Drop that plate immediately!” as if it was a gun, and arrested him for homeless feeding.
See, Fort Lauderdale has passed through a law that makes it illegal to hand out food to hungry people, along with other laws that forbids begging and sleeping in public places. Commissioner Dean Trantalis explained that in formulating these ordinances, “the rights of all individuals were addressed and the goals of keeping a safe and welcoming environment were maintained.” He then shared how surprised he was that a representative from a homeless activist group refused to talk to him about his brilliant ideas.
I’m not a big fan of the Young Turks – them being not very devoted to Jesus – but I thought this clip was extremely funny and interesting when they point to the fact that giving free homes to homeless people… actually defeats homelessness:
The American state of Utah has been doing this for the last ten years – every homeless person gets a home and access to a social worker and a case worker who will help them getting a job, be intergrated in society and get mental health care if they need some. At first, the home is free, and if they get a job they’ll pay 30% of their income for the house. The result is that homelessness in Utah has decreased with 78% – and it turns out that they seem to have saved a lot of money: the annual cost for E.R. visits and jail stays for each homeless person is around $ 16,670, while the cost for a free home and a social worker for each homeless person was $11,000. Plus, they get a job quicker!
This model of housing first is being tried in more and more communities over the world. In my own town of Uppsala here in Sweden, the City Mission – a Christian charity working with homeless people – have actively proposed the model.
Some seem to be very surprised that giving homes to homeless people actually defeats homelessness and creates a better society. Now, don’t get shocked, but scientists suggest, that it may very well be so, that if we give food to hungry people, we will defeat hunger. There is even a slight possibility – I may be wrong – that if we give clothes to naked people, they will be clothed!
share your food with the hungry
and provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, clothe them,
and do not turn away from your own flesh and blood. (Is 58:7)
Last weekend, I met some other Christian activists discussing the serious threat of climate change, its effects on the poor and what we should do. We will partake in Act Alliance‘s global climate campaign next year that will urge world leaders meeting at the COP 21 in Paris, December 2015, to finally reach a universal, legally binding agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gases, stopping the global warming from reaching more than 2 degrees Celsius. To get some inspiration, we watched an awesome documentary called Disruption, produced by 350.org.
Instead of getting stuck in debates with the skeptics, Disruption simply concludes that the absolute majority of climate scientists agree that this is an enormous threat towards especially the poor and vulnerable. The title refers to “the dangerous environmental tipping points after which the entire climate system could spiral out of control, as well as the need for a mass social movement to disrupt the status quo and business-as-usual approach which is inhibiting the bold actions necessary to protect the planet’s future.” If the current global warming melts the arctic or releases tons of methane in the tundra, climate change may spin out of control. It is urgent to stop this as soon as possible.
Disruption is thankfully not just about the problem, but mainly about the solution. It’s a film by activists for activists, and its main focus is the historic People’s Climate March, the biggest climate manifestation in history. The documentary was released two weeks prior to the actual march, so you may feel a little disappointed after watching it without seeing what is being prepared throughout the film. But fear not, I got the solution: here are some pics from this amazing event that occured on September 21st in New York, Berlin, London, Lagos, Istanbul and many other places: