Monday, March 17, 2008

Master Of Theology

Master Of Theology
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
The Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary at Grand Rapids Michigan has been licensed by the state to grant Master of Theology degrees for just over two years. The program has been actively teaching since early 2007. Originally envisioned as a three year degree the Master of Theology degree can be achieved in one year if the student is attending full time.
Though the number of students is relatively small, 15 student initially, the students have come from all over the world to take part in this learning opportunity. Some of them are just learning to be ministers while others have been preaching for years and have decided to go back to school to become even more knowledgeable and helpful to their congregations. Courses offered include Ancient Near Eastern Literature and the Bible, Conversion in the Old and New Testaments, Forerunners of the Reformation, and Lutheran Orthodoxy.

Gerald Bilkes
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
2965 Leonard Street, NE Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eric E. Wallace

Eric E. Wallace
Uniting Church and Home
The Institute for Uniting Church and Home released an advertisement for the IUCH program, a request for support, and the purchasing of their new how to book on the subject of Church and Home.
The tenor of the letter was an optimistic sales pitch aimed at somewhat desperate ministers. On the Uniting Church and Home website they claimed that programs aimed at micromanaging the personal, spiritual lives of nuclear families, particularly dysfunctional ones, simply worked to drive people away from the church. By micromanaging spiritual lives the institute is of course referring to home schooling. These programs have in the past had problems due to hostile public and private school systems, which view them as money not in school vaults.
The efforts of the institute have been towards the continued improvement of these programs.

Eric E. Wallace
Institute For Uniting Church and Home
4012 Echo Ridge Place
Midlothian, Virginia 23112

Krisztian Barticel

Krisztian Barticel
Transylvania Reformed Assistance Committee
The Reformed faith that once flourished in Transylvania has had severe setbacks over the years. The Communist government was never particularly happy with organized religion because Christianity offered an alternative to worshiping the state. The Reformed churches while numerous were hit harder by the decades of totalitarian dogma than the Orthodox church because the Orthodox church was more centrally organized, supported by the Romanian majority, and the individual congregations made up of Reformed Hungarians were easy targets for the predatory old government and the somewhat less predatory new government.
For these reasons an active movement has been working for years to restore the old Reformed churches in Romania and help the villagers find ways to live in an economic wasteland that prevents even good farmland from being used effectively. Krisztian Barticel has for sometime been at the very heart of the Transylvania Reformed Assistance Committee. The purpose of TRAC is the restoration of the Reformed church in Transylvania.
It is not an easy task. Any minister in the area receives a very small wage and must do as much to survive as any other villager. This provides the unappealing challenge of working as hard as possible seven days a week. In Transylvania it appears that being a minister is even more of a calling rather than a job than it is in other parts of the world.
For all these reasons the Reformed church is on the verge of dying out. Barticel said that he “identifies his calling with that of Ezekiel.” Ezekiel was the prophet who was told to preach to dead bones. However, there is still hope. The government has returned land that they stole from the churches to the churches, and a plan has been devised to bus children up to 60 km away so that they can get a Reformed education, as opposed to an Orthodox education.

Transylvanian Reformed Assistance Committee
6970 Bouer Rd.
Hudsonville, MI 49426

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Menorah Ministries

Menorah Ministries
Palm Harbor, Florida
Menorah Ministries is expanding its work among German and Russian Jews. The ministry has had visitors from non-Messianic Jews who were curious about their Christian neighbors. The German Jewish population is on the rise. Most of these German Jews are actually Russian Jews so that the spreading of the gospel message can move much more freely in both of these nations.
Menorah Ministries is developing a training program for leaders of the 100 or more Russian speaking messianic synagogues around the world.

John and Patrice Fischer
Menorah Ministries
PO Box 669
Palm Harbor, Florida 34682

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Historical Artifact Found

Historical Artifact Found
A recent archeological dig near the Dung Gate in Jerusalem resulted in an interesting find. The find was a 2,500-year-old seal that has been identified with the Temech family. This family is referenced in the book of Nehemiah. They worked at the first temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The seal contains the symbol of the Babylonian god Sin. That a worker at the temple would use this symbol fits with the corruption of the Jewish people described in Nehemiah. That this coincides with the destruction of the temple and the beginning of the “Babylonian Captivity” is fascinating in both a historical and religious context.
Religiously it shows the down sliding of the people, which is referenced as the reason God allowed the Babylonians to conquer them. Historically it helps confirm some of the events described in Nehemiah. The head Israeli archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar was happy to have found physical evidence confirming the existence of a family mentioned in the Bible.

Prayer-Life Seminars News
630 Meadowbrook Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78412-3019

African Bible College

African Bible College
The Observer has previously written about the African Bible College in Liberia. This is not their only location. The African Bible College is an international organization dedicated to bringing Christian higher learning to Africa. They have campuses in many nations on that continent and they are growing. The college in Malawi covers 50 acres. It contains a pediatric ward that can support 12 babies. Efforts have been made to expand the ward to double that number. Not wanting to stop there, future plans include making a pediatric clinic that may be able to hold 40 babies. Perhaps one day they will open a campus in the Americas so that they can reach the real heathens.

J.W. Chinchen
African Bible Colleges
PO Box 103
Clinton, MS 39060

Friday, March 7, 2008

Christians in Pakistan

Christians in Pakistan
Frank Van Dalen
Christian missionaries have a historical tendency to get killed. When a person goes to another country and challenges the beliefs of that country the locals get violent. If the local government is marked by instability and chaos the situation gets worse. For this reason the Christians of Pakistan are worried. The World Witness program was allowed into the country in 1906 when it was still part of British India. Over the past century the country has gone from stable to unstable to violently changing its government once a decade.
During this time The Christians in general, and the World Witness program in particular, has ministered to the Pakistanis, converted many, and become valuable members of the community. However, Muslim aggression has ballooned throughout the world in the last two decades. In mid 90s Pakistan two prime ministers were removed by coups and in the end General Musharraf came to power. After ten years of desperately trying to hold the country together radical political and religious elements have tried to seize power.
This took a relatively stable situation and turned it into a chaotic one. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, one of the ousted prime ministers and political agitator, has only made the situation worse. Frank Van Dalen, executive director of World Witness, does not think as highly of Mrs. Bhutto as the western media. However, he claims that her death did not improve the situation.
For the moment the Christians in Pakistan are not being persecuted the way Christians are in most of the Muslim world. Even so, two of the four Pakistani provinces are now controlled by Islamic militants. These men will almost certainly try to force compromises from the government. It is unlikely that these compromises will benefit the Christians of the nation.

Frank Van Dalen
World Witness
One Cleveland St. Suite 220
Greenville, SC 29601