All posts filed under: News

Brazilian Amazon Credit: Guto de Lima/Flickr/Creative Commons

From Debutante balls to the Brazilian jungle

The National Post ran a fascinating article on Canadian Ruth Thomson who 50 years ago left her high-class life as a Toronto debutante to serve in the jungles of Brazil as a Wycliffe missionary. Her father was a highly successful Toronto lawyer, and Ruth grew up in a mansion and attended private school. She became so proficient at horse riding that another wealthy family — Pittsburgh’s Mellon family — asked Ruth to ride their horses competitively. As she came of age, her parents expected Ruth to attend Downton Abbey debutante balls where parents signaled to Toronto society their young daughters were ready for dating and marriage. It featured flowing gowns and elbow-length gloves. She recalls having disagreements with her parents in 1959 who wanted her to attend a number of  balls held at private clubs and the major event on that year’s social calendar  — the Governor General’s Ball. She said “I had no patience for any of it. It all seemed so artificial. It wasn’t the life for me.” But despite their wealth, she …

Vickie Williams-Tillman (right) Credit: Baton Rouge Police Department

Vickie Williams-Tillman — a 21st century Good Samaritan in more than one way

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, a black Christian woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana was on her way to the store when she saw a white police officer, Billy Aime, being assaulted by another man. She was also doing what she normally does when driving, Vickie was listening to Gospel music. The police officer had come upon the man sleeping in his vehicle. When Aime saw drug paraphernalia in the car he woke Thomas Bennett, 28. However, after getting out of his car, Bennett quickly gained the advantage. He grabbed Aime’s baton and began beating the police officer on the head. Bennett was also after the police officer’s gun. When Vickie saw the confrontation, she immediately called the police for help. But she did more than that. She got out of her car and jumped on Bennett’s back. This caught Bennett totally off guard, confusing him and hindering him from grabbing the gun. When another police officer showed up a few minutes later, he subdued Bennett with a stun gun. The police charged Bennett with assaulting a police …

Nambia desert Credit: John Adams/Flickr/Creative Commons

Healing our rejection

Using a MRI scan university researchers discovered that emotional pain associated with rejection is as real as physical pain. In 2011, the group led by University of Michigan associate professor Ethan Kross studied 40 people who had recently gone through a romantic break-up within the previous six months. All the participants chosen mentioned having felt intense feelings of rejection due to the ending of the relationship. The 40 people were then put through two tests one related to the emotional pain they felt over the rejection and the other actual physical pain. In the first test, the study subjects viewed an image of their ex and were asked to think about the break up.  In the second stage, thermal devices were attached to their arms that created heat the equivalent of hot coffee. As the 40 people went through these and other comparative tests, the researchers monitored their brain activity using MRIs. The researchers found that feelings of rejection sparked neural activity in the same area of the brain where people felt physical pain. In …

Pray for those who mistreat you. Credit: MissTessmacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: prayer calms the angry heart

A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega sharing on their devotional Vlog WOW (Words of Wisdom): Credit YouTube Capture

Hollywood celebrities Carlos and Alexa PenaVega talk about the power of prayer

Actress Alexa PenaVega (nee Vega) recently shared an Instagram post on how prayer raised her 93 year-old-grandmother from the deathbed. This past week has been a struggle for my family as our beautiful abuelita (grandma) was on life support. It has been a bitter sweet experience. Here is this woman who has had such a full and beautiful life… 93 years old…12 kids… more than 50 grand kids…10 great grand children… just the most incredible little Colombian woman inside and out. This week her lungs collapsed. Her heart started failing. Her stomach stopped working and she fell into a coma. As we all prepared ourselves to say goodbye my family’s local church members came to her side and prayed over her for over five hours. When I say the power of prayer can bring forth the most amazing miracles THIS WILL FLOOR YOU. Our abuelita Yeya woke up completely healed. The Dr.’s cannot find anything wrong with her. They can’t explain it. They keep running tests to try to make sense of it all. But …

Award Credit: Youtube capture/The Recording Academy

A grandmother’s prayer leads to Chance the Rapper’s worship service at the Grammys

At the 59th Grammy Awards held Sunday, February 12, 2017, Chance the Rapper won three Grammys. The Grammy Awards are put on by The Recording Academy to honor outstanding achievement in music recording primarily in the English-speaking world. Chance the Rapper who recently became a Christian received “Best New Artist,” Best Rap Album” and “Best Rap Performance” at this year’s awards. He was nominated for seven in total for his recent 14-song album The Coloring Book. Five of the album’s songs have a significant Christian theme that marked the remarkable spiritual transformation that has taken place in the life of Chance the Rapper. In a radio interview he shared what happened. His grandmother saw him while he was performing on his Acid Rap tour — the name reveals where he was at spiritually — and she began to pray for her grandson. Chance the Rapper said: “One day during my Acid Rap tour, my grandmther saw me and began to pray. She said ‘I break off anything in your life that is not God.’ After …

Denzel Washington Credit: GabboT/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

An old woman’s prophecy over actor Denzel Washington said he would speak to millions

Denzel Washington, 62, is a popular American Actor, playing major roles in such movies as Remembering the Titans, Training Day and one of my favorites — The Book of Eli. He has won two Academy awards and three Golden Globes. In an interview with Parade Magazine, Denzel spoke of his strong spiritual roots, including his father who was Pentecostal preacher for nearly five decades. Denzel added that he reads the Bible daily and has read it through completely three times. God had a call and a purpose for Denzel and he tells of a prophetic word given him by an older woman at their church who many considered a prophet. She told Denzel that one day he would speak to millions of people. Denzel was 21 years old and had just flunked out of college. He was sitting in his mother’s beauty shop, when the old woman approached him. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Denzel recounts what happened next: It was March 27, 1975. I started acting four months later. She said, “You know …

Children need married parents to thrive Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

Children do better when parents are married versus living together

A recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that children raised in a family where parents marry have the best chance of success. The study reported in The Federalist analyzed data from 100 countries. The study found that where there is no marriage commitment — this included situations where both of the child’s biological parents were living together — there was a greater chance the child would face a union transition. This takes place when parents end their relationship and start a new sexual relationship. These types of transition create a major time of instability for children often resulting in emotional and behavioral problems, educational difficulties and even a higher risk of death for the child. The report stated that “[C]ohabitation continues to confer a stability disadvantage on individual children even as cohabitation has become more normative.” The report disputes those who suggest that because of the rise in rates cohabitation it should be looked upon as the new form of marriage. Writing for The Federalist, Holly Scheer said: “Couples who commit to …

Village in Indonesia Credit: Jose Javier Martin Esparto/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Muslim man’s journey to Christ through the Quran

Evangelical Focus recently shared the testimony of a young Muslim man who became a Christian because of what he read in the Quran — Islam’s version of the Bible. Markus was raised in a strict Sudanese Muslim family in Western Java, Indonesia. His father, a high ranking Muslim leader, led the Muslim University that Markus eventually attended. As part of an Islamic youth group, Markus actively shared Islam with non believers. It was the result of one encounter with a Chinese Christian man who led Markus to leave Islam and become a Christian. As he shared his Islamic views with the man, he responded stating he was confident that he was going to His Father in heaven. For Muslims, heaven is a such a sacred place, they rarely talk about it. Markus was also puzzled over how this man referred to God as his father as Muslims consider themselves slaves of Allah. When Markus challenged the Christian on who his God was, the man answered simply Jesus. This answer began to haunt Markus. According to …

The main hindrance to constructing the Third Jewish Temple is the Muslim Dome of the Rock that Orthodox Jews believe sits on the original site of the Jewish Temple. Credit: Davit Ortmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jewish Sanhedrin re-introduces the half-shekel Temple Tax

A report in Breaking Israel News (BIN) says the nascent Sanhedrin has introduced an official half-shekel temple tax. Referred to as the mitzvah or commandment, the money will be dedicated to operating a third Jewish temple if it is ever built. The half-shekel tax was first set up under Moses to help fund the tabernacle. Jews paid it when Israel conducted a national census (Exodus 30:15). The Jewish leadership then introduced a one-third temple tax during the rebuilding of the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:32; Ezra 6:8). It was collected annually. The tax was re-introduced when Herod built the second temple in 20 BC. The half-shekel tax, worth about $4 today, was collected three times a year during annual pilgrimages to the temple. They had actual tax collectors whose job was to collect the tax. We even have an account of Jesus and Peter paying the temple tax (Matthew 17). However, it is clear that Jesus felt no obligation to pay the mitzvah (verses 25-26). So why did Jesus pay it? He agreed …

Morgan Freeman Credit: Nathan Congleton/Flickr/Creative Commons

Morgan Freeman on the Gift of Tongues

The Christian Broadcasting Network published an article on comments actor Morgan Freeman recently made on his encounter with the Gift of Tongues at Newlife Pentecostal Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was part of a documentary series Freeman is doing called “The Story of God.” In a recent episode he describes this charismatic gift as “powerful.” Freeman said: “All around me people have been swept up by an invisible force. And now they speak what they believe is the language of Heaven. I can see on their faces that they are genuinely somewhere else. “Now, whatever it is, they felt that power; they are not the same. Experience changes them, how they see themselves, how they relate to others, how they change their lives. “That was a powerful experience. I could feel the energy in that space. Normal people suddenly transformed by some power and then just suddenly return to normal. But Pentecostals believe they are bringing heaven down to earth.” These are interesting statements as the experience seems to have genuinely impacted Freeman. The …

Tim Tebow in his interview with Harry Connick Jr. Credit: Youtube capture

A Divine coincidence?

As a quarterback for the University of Florida Gators, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as the best player in college football.  In 2010, the Denver Broncos chose Tim in the first round of the NFL draft. After the Denver Broncos started off the 2011 season with a record of one loss and four wins,  Tebow took over quarterbacking the team leading them to an 8-6 season, the AFC West title and first playoff victory since 2005. But winning isn’t everything in the NFL, because that was the last season Tim started an NFL game. Questions about his throwing ability led to Denver trading him to the New York Jets in 2012 and by 2013 he was basically out of football. But his strong Christian faith was prominent every time he stepped on the field. The son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines, one of Tebow’s trademarks in college was citing the Bible verse John 3:16 on the eye-black many football players put under their eye to reduce sun glare. During one Gator …

Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) Viet Nam. Credit: Colin Key/Flickr/Creative Commons

Original sin

Studies show that the average person lies about 100 times a day. As one writer tactfully noted, this was not talking about you specifically, but the average person. In the study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman recruited 121 pairs of men and women attending classes at the university to take part in the study. They had no idea what it involved at this point. They were then brought together and asked to have conversations with the other participants. Most of them did not know each other. They were unaware that the conversations were being recorded and researchers received the required permission after, before moving to the next stage. The students were then asked to view the video and to pick out the lies — from the most innocent to the most blatant. They found that over 60% of the participants lied within the first ten minutes of their conversation and told an average of 2.92 lies. They found men and women lied the same amount, …

England's Parliament Building Credit: Jim Nix/Flickr/Creative Commons

In the midst of trials and tribulation lies a ‘Great Opportunity’

Interesting days in England and it probably  indicates what the so-called progressive left eventually wants to see happen in North America. A new law is being debated in England’s House of Commons and if passed, the government’s revised Policing and Crime Bill will see the penalty for a “racially or religiously aggravated offense” increased from its current seven-year imprisonment to 14 years. Since the revised law implies that a person could be thrown in jail for simply offending someone, during the debate UKIP Member of Parliament Lord Pearson asked the following question of the government: “Could such an offense be caused by a Christian preaching the supreme divinity of Christ and thereby denying the supremacy of Muhammad? Would various assembled Muslims be free to regard that as a religiously aggravated offense under this section?” He wanted to know if a person could be thrown in jail for simply stating their belief Jesus is Lord? As an opposition party, UKIP led the charge in England’s decision to leave the European Union. Rather than saying there was …

Credit: Antonio Ponte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sex addiction is real

Dr. Stefanie Carnes is president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). She recently came out against those in the therapy community who do not believe people can be sex addicts. IITAP provides materials and support for those working in the addiction community. She pointed to several studies that show sex addiction is a very real problem. In particular, she cited the recent research of Ji-Woo Seok and Jin-Hun Sohn at Chungnam National University in South Korea. The two work at the university’s brain research institute. Their findings confirmed what earlier studies have shown — sex addiction is real for both men and women. In their study, Seok and Sohn found that people with a sex addiction share many similarities to those with alcohol and drug addictions. Like other addicts, those with a sex addiction spend an inordinate amount of time searching for pornography to satisfy their craving. Sex addicts have the same level of sexual desire as the normal population, but similar to other addictions have a higher degree of wanting …

Huli Wigmen tribesmen, Papau, New Guinea Credit: Didrik Johnck/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ten-foot angel said “I am not going to let you kill her”

It was February 24, 2009, when Canadian missionary Sue Ambrose heard the sound of someone running up behind her. She turned and saw a madman coming at her with an upraised machete. She remembers screaming “No” and the crazed man yelling “Yeah, you” then the blade deflected off her skull, chipping bone, and slicing off skin and hair. Stunned Sue fell to the ground, but continued to fight back. When the man thrust the large knife into her hip, she grabbed the blade to stop him from striking her again severing several tendons in her hand. From Salmon Arm, BC, Sue and her husband Mark serve as Wycliffe missionaries in Papua, New Guinea. She was returning to the missionary compound after buying food at the local market for the students at the Bible and literacy school where she and her husband minister. She used these walks as a time of meditative prayer and that morning she was contemplating a verse she had spoken to people about that morning: “Whoever desires to save his life will …

Credit: shutter-fotos.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

But Satan hindered us

It was a cold winter night in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada as my wife, then fiancé, and I drove a lonely highway to visit my parents. We had started late afternoon for the six-hour drive. Other than a car following behind us, there wasn’t much traffic. But two flickering lights off in the dark distance warned of an approaching vehicle. As the car got closer, it suddenly veered into our lane. Panicked my wife who was driving wrenched the steering wheel to the right and our car plunged into the ditch. We hit the ditch at full speed and the deep snow gripped our front wheels and our car rolled. Not sideways, but end over end — back over front. Suddenly my wife and I were hanging upside down in our car. I remember fumbling with the keys and turning off the vehicle. We released our seat belts and collapsed on the ceiling of the car. Other than being in total shock about what had just happened, we were unhurt. But the deep snow, that had …

Fortified bridge of the town of Besalu, Spain Credit: Mariluz Rodriguez/Flickr/Creative Commons

Evangelical church growing in Spain and France

Reading reports out of Europe, you get the impression that the Christian church is not doing well. And though it’s true the Roman Catholic and liberal churches are in decline pretty much like they are around the world, the Evangelical church is doing fine. A recent report by the Spanish Government says the Evangelical church is on the upswing in Spain. According to the Religious Plurality report released by the country’s Justice ministry, as of December 31, 2016 there are 3,910 Evangelical churches in Spain, up from 3,769 in 2015, an increase of 141. In other words, last year a new Evangelical church opened in that country every two and a half days. These numbers only included registered churches and do not include unregistered house churches or Bible study/prayer groups. The report added that the Evangelical church is also the fastest growing religion in Spain. Religion analyst Maximo Alvarez who described the increase as a “great upturn,” said the growth has been most pronounced since 2000. With 46 million people, there is still a need …

Crosses overlooking Matera, Italy. Credit: Hugh Bell/Flickr/Creative Commons

Religion Doesn’t Work Anymore

In 2015, Muslim pilgrims in Mecca were caught in a human stampede and thousands were killed. The Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, is a requirement for all Muslims. A devout Muslim should do the Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once. Now, squeezing millions into a small place in the desert, for a few days, and keeping things traditional, is becoming impossible. When things go wrong with the Hajj, thousands die in the stampedes and governments almost go to war. Now the lunar cycle for setting the date has come to the hot desert summer, and it will stay on the summer for a decade. Management of the Hajj has become a crisis. Believers must go, but it’s so hard. I remember when I was in High School, my church told me to “win my friends for Christ.” I looked at my school friends and I didn’t see any way to make that happen. At church we had music with a piano and organ, and a strict Sunday schedule, and so much more. We had a …

Credit: Josh & Karen Tanenbarum/Flickr/Creative Commons

Baby Sinners?

A study by Dr. Vasudevi Reddy, of the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth, showed babies learn to lie before they learn to speak.  Her conclusions were reported in the April 2007 edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Dr. Reddy stated that lying started as early as six months. She says through trial and error, babies gain a better understanding in what situations lies work best and by seven months many infants are skilled in the art of deceit. Reddy’s conclusion flies in the face of many behavioral psychologists who — convinced of man’s eternal goodness — don’t believe children start lying until they are four years of age or older, when their brains are more developed. (By this age some argue lying is a learned behavior not an innate one.) But others, mostly parents, have had nagging suspicions that their sweet, innocent child had a dark side. In the course of her research, Reddy studied 50 children and did extensive interviews with their parents. Through this process, Reddy identified a …

The Bell tower of the Sand covered church sticking out of the ground near Skagen, Denmark Credit: Myrna Petersen

The Buried Church

On a recent trip to my ancestor’s homeland, a visitation to an old church buried in the sand gave some insight as to the way we build our faith, will have a lasting impression in how future generations view the church. The Sand-Covered Church (Danish: Den Tilsandede Kirke, also translated as The Buried Church) is the name of a late 14th-century Danish church dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. Built between 1355 and 1387, the red brick church was 45 meters long and the tower was 22 meters tall. Between 1600 and 1800, desertification or sanding-over of land occurred in the North Jutland coastal areas near the now artistic tourist town of Skagen, Denmark. Desertification destroyed the fields and buried a village near Skagen. By the close of the 18th century the drafting sands had reached the Saint Lawrence of Rome Church. Each time before a service was held, the parishioners had to dig out the entrance. The struggle to keep the church free of sand lasted until 1795, when it was abandoned and front …

Credit: Michael Mazzamuto/Flickr/Creative Commons

But the Lord directs our steps

Twenty years ago, my husband Dean and I were pastoring a satellite church plant in Hong Kong on an island called Discovery Bay. We had gathered a diverse group of people in one of our house churches — a good mix of new and established believers. People were coming to the Lord and being filled with the Holy Spirit. But within this group, there were also some very established missionaries. They had ministered in Hong Kong for several years, and were without a house church so they joined our small group. They were faithful servants of the Lord, but did not believe in the moving of the Holy Spirit. They saw the Holy Spirit as only “the Comforter,” and they often disagreed with the way Dean and I ministered. There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that warns evil times can suddenly fall upon us: 12 Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil …

Learning a lesson on grace at Tim Hortons Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

The day God schooled me

I was at a Tim Horton’s drive thru, a popular coffee and doughnut shop in Canada. Our coffee maker died (may it RIP) and I needed my caffeine fix. That’s when I saw a person in a white car in the drive-thru lane beside me. He had his window rolled down and was smoking a cigarette. As a Cystic Fibrosis mama, that is a trigger for me. My daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at 23 days old. The disease affects the body’s ability to produce sodium chloride, as a result a person’s mucous is very thick. This causes many problems, most seriously lung failure and the struggle to keep a healthy weight as it affects a person’s ability to absorb nutrients. This means hours spent each day ensuring my daughter takes her many medications including the ones given by mask and her nightly tube feedings. I also need to perform physiotherapy on her multiple times in a day to loosen the mucous in her lungs to delay the progression of this terminal disease. In …

Nepal Credit: Roberto Saltori/Flickr/Creative Commons

Nepal court sentenced Christians to prison for ‘withcraft’

A court in Nepal has found four Christians guilty of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘violence’ and sentenced them to five years imprisonment. According to World Watch Monitor, the crime the Christians committed was ministering to Seti Pariyar who had been sent to a prayer meeting in June last year by her father-in-law who thought Seti might be possessed by demons. Seti, who struggled with some type of mental illness, attended the prayer meeting, but left early fleeing into a nearby forest. After the prayer meeting ended, members of the church found Seti screaming in the forest and self harming. After praying for her, the group took the woman to her home. A few weeks later, a local businessman shared the incident with the local media who wrote a story on what took place at the church. When news of this came to light, a local resident filed a complaint with the police on the incident, who arrested five Christians and accused them of trying to convert Seti to Christianity. They also accused them of practicing ‘witchcraft’ and …

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Credit: Wikipedia/Michael-David Bradford

Coincidence or is this the reason why membership in the Southern Baptist church shrunk?

On May 13, 2016, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) announced that it will now allow its missionaries to speak in tongues privately. This ended a policy initiated in November 2005, when the board said it would no longer accept missionaries who spoke in tongues. Originally the board allowed missionaries to speak in tongues in their personal prayer life, but forbid any public expression. On its application form one of the first questions asked was if the person spoke in tongues. The question will remain but will not impact a person’s ability to work as a missionary with SBC. The Southern Baptist church, the largest protestant denomination in North America, believes the gift of tongues, also called glossolalia, ended with the age of the apostles and is no longer valid today. Then the very next year, 2006, in a nearly unanimous vote (36-1) trustees of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced they will no longer allow anyone to promote speaking in tongues on campus and will not hire any person who knowingly …

Islamic State flag and graffiti in Rhone Alpes, France. Credit: thierry ehrmann/Wikipedia

Despite threats against the church, God moves on ISIS leader through a dream

According to USA Today, the Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, is urging radical followers to attack Christians attending New Year’s eve church services. This was based on a report issued by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that regularly tracks Jihadist websites, forums and social media. SITE states that Jihadist social media messages are encouraging lone-wolf attacks against churches. The report specifically noted four countries were listed as targets — Canada, US, Holland and France. Confirming this report, the FBI issued a warning to churches in the US to be vigilant about possible ISIS attacks during New Year services. The FBI said it has picked up increased chatter of possible strikes against churches and though there were no specifics it issued a general warning. According to Vocatv, Islāmic groups are increasingly using a social media app called Telegram to communicate with followers. It reported on a similar message in Arabic issued by a user who went by the name Abu Marya al-Iraqi: “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year … turn the Christian New Year …

Credit: elvin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why is male circumcision making a come back?

At one point the circumcision of male boys shortly after birth was the standard practice in North America and Europe. But over the last several decades, the procedure has fallen out of favor and there has been a steady decline in the number of boys being circumcised. But now there has been an upsurge in men, now adults, wanting to be circumcised and new procedures are being developed to do it, some almost painless. Though there are those who absolutely oppose male circumcision, and even link it to female circumcision which is brutal and unnecessary procedure, studies show that male circumcision has significant health benefits. On its website, the World Health Organization noted that several studies revealed that male circumcision reduces the chances of contracting HIV by upwards of 60%. In one multi-year study being conducted on African men, researchers were so astounded by the reduced HIV contraction that they stopped the study half-way through and told the men in the uncircumcised study group to get circumcised. As part of its goal to eradicate HIV …

Kaylee Rodgers leading the Killard House school Choir in "Hallelujah." Credit: Youtube

10-year-old autistic girl sings Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ with a Christmas twist

A 10-year-old autistic girl from Northern Ireland is wowing social media with her Youtube version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Leonard Cohen, a Canadian song writer and singer, died on November 7, 2016 at age 82. Kayleigh Rogers attends Killard House school in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland. The school has 200 students from ages three to 16. In the song, that has since gone viral on Facebook with over 1 million views, Kayleigh leads the school’s choir in a moving rendition of the international hit. Since it was part of the Killard House’s Christmas program, the school changed the words to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Kayleigh started school at age 7 and not only struggles with autism but ADHD as well. Though of moderate severity, they have resulted in “learning delays” for Kayleigh. In an interview with BBC, the school’s principal Colin Miller said Kaylee is normally a very shy girl, but when she begins to sing, she shines. Miller told Belfast Live: “She may only be a child but she has an amazing tone …

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr/Creative Commons

Major improvement in Google translation of nine languages

I have received a number of comments on an article published on opentheword.org two days ago in a strange language. Some wondered if opentheword had been hacked. Others asked what language it was. A couple wanted an English translation of the article. All that happened is I took a story on the website and translated it into Turkish using Google translator: English: Former Muslim imam says the Qur’an is the reason he converted to Christianity Turkish translation: Eski Müslüman imam, Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin sebebi Kuran olduğunu söylüyor Here is the back story: A couple of days ago, I received an article in French that I needed to read in English. So I threw it in to Google translator to see what it was about. I have used the service in the past and it provided a basic, but rough rendering of the article. But this time when it spit out the English translation, I was stunned by how well it read. The English was clear and readable. The grammar was correct and I had no trouble …

Eski Müslüman imam, Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin sebebi Kuran olduğunu söylüyor

English translation of article: Former Muslim imam says the Qur’an is the reason he converted to Christianity Mario Joseph, Hindistan’da yaşayan ve bakan olan bir Katolik öğretmen / evanjisttir. Bir rahipten farklı olarak, çocuklarıyla evlidir. Ayrıca bir başka bakımdan farklıdır – dönüşümünden önce Müslüman bir imamdı. Hindistan’da ağırlıklı olarak Müslüman ve Hindu olan birkaç Hıristiyan ile büyüdü. Ailesinin güçlü Müslümanları vardı ve Mario, 8 yaşında Kuran’a gönderildi. 18 yaşındayken Mario, kendi camisinde imam olarak görev yapıyordu. Bu videoda, Mario, İslam’dan Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin büyüleyici ayrıntılarını sunmaktadır. Tuhaf bir şekilde, nerde öğrettiği camide sorulan soru yüzünden başlar. O toplananlara, İsa’nın Tanrı olmadığını, birileri seslenince: “İsa kim?” Bu soru yüzünden Mario, Mesih hakkında daha fazla bilgi edinmek için Kuran’ı aradı. Ne keşfetti onu şaşırttı. Mario’ya göre, Kuran sadece dört kez Muhammed’den bahsediyor; İsa Mesih’e ise 25 bahsediliyor. İkincisi, İsa’nın annesi Meryem, Kuran’da adıyla anılan tek kadın. Muhammed’in annesi bile bu şerefi kabul etmedi. Kuran ayrıca birtakım mucizeleri İsa ile ilişkilendirir. Bazıları İsa’nın doğumdan iki gün sonra konuşması gibi İsa’nın Kitabı olmadığı gibi, nasıl çamurdan kuş çıkardığı, onun üzerinde …

Justin Bieber in concert at the Chateau Neuf in Oslo, Norway Credit: NRK P3/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is pop star Justin Bieber preaching the gospel back stage at his concerts?

According to a report in the English newspaper, The Sun, Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber is preaching the gospel as part of his “Purpose” concert tour. Sources told the paper, that Justin is holding Bible studies back stage and encouraging those in his entourage, including opening acts, to become Christians. The unnamed source said: “Backstage on his Purpose tour, Justin has been sitting down with his opening acts and encouraging them to put Christ before anything. His aim is to convert the people he loves and warn others against the evils of the industry.” The source added that since Justin became a born-again believer, his life has changed for the better and he is making “better decisions.” I previously reported on how Justin sang a popular worship song — “I could sing of your love forever” — at a concert in Paris on September 20, 2016 as part of this tour. Overall the Purpose tour has received favorable reviews. The tour started in Seattle on March 9, 2016 and Seattle Times reviewer Owen Smith wrote, …

Entrance to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The sign reads "Work Sets You Free." Credit: Igor Griffiths/Flickr/Creative Commons

Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are linked

Now in their 80s and 90s, many survivors of the Nazi Holocaust were upset when a photo of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 81, surfaced earlier this year. It was a photo of Eva embracing Oskar Groening, 94, in a German courtroom in the city of Lunenburg. Groening had been a SS sergeant and chief accountant at Auschwitz concentration camp, the same camp the Nazis sent Eva and her Hungarian Jewish family to die. The courts found Groening guilty and complicit in the slaughter of 300,000 Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Eva and her identical twin sister Miriam were ten when their family arrived at the concentration camp. As the cattle cars emptied, Eva recalls the Nazis scouring the hundred of Jews standing on the train platform. The guards were looking for identical twins. When a guard saw Eva and Miriam, he yanked them out of their mothers arms and took them away. They were of keen interest to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi surgeon at the camp who used Jews for his brutal experiments. He …

Church of Nativity, Bethlehem Credit: Jordan Pickett/Flickr/Creative Commons

A 360 virtual tour of the birth place of Jesus

For those who have never visited Israel, in the video above film director Pearry Teo provides a 360 degree virtual tour of what is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. Just move your mouse over the video for a full panoramic view. Our tour guide is Danny Herman. Located in Bethlehem which today is part of Palestine, the Church of the Nativity covers the opening to a cave or Grotto, where you walk down stair to view where it is traditionally believed Jesus was born. On the floor, you can see the spot where Mary gave birth to Jesus. A ‘silver star’ marks where the manger sat — installed in 1717, for good reason some question if this is the exact spot. They even note where the Magi stood when they came to worship the Christ. We can’t be absolutely sure the cave is the location where Jesus was born. The original version of the chapel claiming this as the place was built by Constantine in 333 AD — at the insistence of his …

Abandoned Coptic Church in Suez, Egypt Credit: Nathaniel Page/Flickr/Creative Commons

The horrific persecution of the Egyptian Coptic Church

Many consider the Coptic church as the oldest church in the world. It traces its beginnings back to the work of the gospel writer Mark who they believe came to Alexandria, Egypt in 42 AD during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. For those who believe Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Copts   have been undergoing horrific persecution in the Middle East, most recently with the bombing of St. Mark’s Coptic Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016.  According to Egyptian authorities a suicide bomber was carrying 12 kilograms of TNT when he set it off in the Sunday morning service killing 24. The Copts make up 10% of Egypt’s population of 91 million. Though authorities were quick to condemn the slaughter, there has been a significant increase in Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt, since the military overthrow of Egyptian president Mohammaed Morsi in 2013, The Muslim brotherhood who backed Morsi, blames the Coptics, who supported the overthrow, for the …

The Singing Contractors: Facebook

‘The Singing Contractors’ unexpected climb to fame

Two general contractors working in and around Indianapolis, Indiana have taken social media by storm, not by displaying teaching videos on contracting techniques, but by singing. Aaron Gray, 39 and Josh Arnett, 40, have been friends since childhood. Today, they work as contractors — pounding a hammer. Living about an hour apart outside Indianapolis, they often work together on projects. Initially they started out singing together while they worked, but at one point they decided to record the songs on their phones. All their songs are ‘a cappella’ but often have a cathedral type sound as they sing in empty homes. Both Arnett and Gray come from Christian homes, but neither of them had sang professionally. The turning point came last year when pastor Paul Biggar joined them in singing “How Great Thou Art.” They sang it in three-part harmony in the basement of a home they were working on. They shared it on Facebook and within a few weeks the video was viewed 19 million times. Because of their almost instantaneous climb to fame, …