"By 2025, 50 percent of the Christian populations (of the world) will be in Africa and Latin America, and another 17 percent in Asia." Phillips Jenkins in "The Next Christianity"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH: The saints and faithful in Sabah are not remotely interested in sodomy. It is dividing the Anglican Communion, and tragically it IS affecting the aggressive growth of the Anglican churches here in Malaysia whose clergy are reaching out evangelistically to indigenous tribal people, Chinese, and to Indonesians that flock across their border in search of work.
As a result of the Global North's pushing of this abominable behavior, some Pentecostal and other churches encourage Asian Anglicans to leave the Anglican Church thus hurting their growth. "It affects us deeply," said Archbishop Yong Ping Chung to this writer as we sipped coffee at his residence in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. "Muslims in Malaysia read the bad (homosexual) news coming into our press and we become the subject of scorn and derision. There is a price to pay, and we are paying it."
But the silver lining is that new laws that make it impossible for Indonesians to stay in Malaysia for any length of time as workers, means that, for those who convert to Christ they can now take the gospel back to their own country, proclaim it and plant churches in the most densely populated Islamic country on earth. Malaysian Christians are not permitted to cross borders to do this.
Here at the tip of Borneo in the city of Kota Kinabalu, known simply as KK, set in the lush countryside of Malaysia a thriving Anglican Diocese in the Province of Southeast Asia is reaching out evangelistically to the multi-ethnic world that surrounds them.
Once known as North Borneo, Sabah is home to hundreds of Anglican churches many of which are to be found in the jungles of Malaysia pastored by godly priests and pastors (unordained full time mostly women workers), who have one single goal - to spread the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and to make disciples of every ethnic group that live here. (The Province of Southeast Asia does not ordain women).
I had been invited to Sabah at the invitation of its bishop and the province's archbishop the Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung and his wife Julia to witness the ordination of eight men - six to the priesthood and two to the Diaconate - as well as travel the diocese and see the more than 100 congregations at work in the jungles of Southeast Asia and those that border on Indonesia, Buruni, Thailand and the Philippines.
The cross cultural ordination ceremony was itself a study in ethnic evangelism efforts. It was a magnificent and holy occasion conducted in three languages and marked by an exuberance and joy unparalleled in any western service of a similar kind that I have ever witnessed. These young men are the next generation of Asian tigers for Christ.
All Saints' Cathedral was packed with nearly 600 people from six cultures with the two and a half hour service culminating in the largest group ever to have hands laid on them, capping the15-year ecclesiastical career of Archbishop Yong, a godly and humble Primate who has presided over the most remarkable growth of the Anglican Church in this area of the world. He will retire next February, but he leaves a legacy that he can be proud of, and a people who, over the years have grown to love this quiet, gentle and unassuming man.
During the service conducted simultaneously in English, Chinese, Bahasa Malay and Kadazan (one of the indigenous language groups) the Archbishop suddenly broke away from his prepared sermon and launched into singing "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" and 600 voices took up the refrain. The closing hymn, "Send the Light" and the choir's presentation "Make Strong for Service" summed up the present and future hope of this diocese.
FROM the moment I arrived here in Malaysia I have experienced nothing but the most incredible hospitality, warmth and love that I rarely have felt in other parts of the world.
These Kadazan Christians are a gentle people exuding a Christlikeness that is rare in many Christian circles I travel. On the surface they are kind and gentle, but on gospel issues they are tenacious and unyielding. Speaker after speaker at the clergy conference which followed cried out for more faith, the need to die if necessary for one's faith and for the redemption of their people. They were as clear about God's love as they were about God's wrath. They were explicit in their understanding of sin whatever your race; class or culture might be, as well as the need for redemption from sin. They are gentle in presenting the gospel to their Malay Muslim neighbors while remaining sensitive to the political and social conditions of their country. Muslim and Christian live side by side in peace.
The clergy conference that followed the ordinations was wholly concerned with Mission: the winning of souls for Jesus Christ. The Archbishop's own speech, "Break Through in Mission" highlighted the push he intends for his young priests.
"We want God to bless our Diocese with faithful workers for a rich harvest of souls! The word God has given me to bring to all of us in this ordination service is C.A.L.L! - Christ, Apostles, Leaders and Life". The crowd roared its approval. This diocese is on the march.
A church that reaches 200 must plant another church, said one Chinese church planter and priest. "Looking at the rural church and as a result of a survey 39 churches will be planted with 18 workers needed in19 new mission districts."
Worship times are powerful with vigorous exhortations for God to show himself. There were displays of impassioned love towards God with outstretched hands and a concomitant passion to serve Him in whatever way He calls them.
The upcoming election of a new bishop is being done without politicking and there are no walk-about acts with clergymen trying to impress standing committees on how much or who they know. Names are quietly submitted and a simple vote by the House of Bishops of the Province of Southeast Asia will decide the next Bishop of Sabah. He will, above all, be a godly man, able to defend the faith, be a pastor to his clergy and care for his people and be an encourager to his staff to save and nurture souls. There is no shortage of good men. Phony notions of inclusivity and pansexual behavior are not on the radar screen of wannabe bishops here. He will be a man of God's own choosing and that will the final test.
Here at this conference I have had the joy of meeting all the clergy, and been given the opportunity to address them on the state of Global Christianity and the Crisis in the Anglican Communion, with a lecture on how best to use the Internet to convey the truth about what is going on around the world especially in the North American context.
All the clergy for the most part read VirtueOnline they tell me, so they keep up to date with what is going on in the world of Anglicanism. They are enormously grateful for my scribblings and I am humbled that the Internet is making it possible for them to daily read what is going on apart from the massive organs of liberal spin churned out by the American Church's Episcopal Life, ENS, the Canadian Anglican Journal, the British press and the Anglican Communion News Service. My small contribution has turned out to be more than I could have asked or dreamed.
Over the next two weeks I will visit numerous churches deep in the jungles of Malaysia and see their ministry first hand. I will report back to you all.
THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION CONTINUES TO ROIL IN AGONY. The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola made two pronouncements this week that are bound to inflict pain inside Lambeth Palace. The first had to do with a letter he wrote to the Nigerian House of Bishops blasting the ECUSA HOB's Covenant statement drafted at Camp Allen, Texas calling its "regret" a disappointment and for their failure to admit that what they have done has offended God and His Church.
Akinola then blasted a number of misleading reports about the recent Primates' meeting in Northern Ireland saying, "I find it highly offensive to hear claims that a group of us were influenced by external forces into taking stands that we would not otherwise have taken. There is absolutely no merit to these claims and I am saddened that there are those who wish to perpetuate this malevolent falsehood."
He also said that holding together the communion was little more than a fiction arguing that "ECUSA has yet to grasp this reality and still appears to be chasing shadows. Until this is recognized there can be no hope of meaningful reconciliation."
Akinola said he was appalled by statements claiming that the devil was wandering the halls of the Dromantine Retreat Center - "perhaps those who make such observations should first look within themselves before they accuse others. Many of us believe that what we achieved in our time together was due to the work of God's Holy Spirit and to claim otherwise is blasphemous."
In another statement he made it clear that he would cross provincial and diocesan boundaries and offer safe harbor for those Nigerian Anglicans in distress in the US. He announced the formation of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America, bypassing Rowan Williams "panel of reference" that has yet to see the light of day and the torn fabric of Frank Griswold's slowly dying denomination.
The latter issue so incensed the church's First Sodomite Louie Crew that he wrote on the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv that "Akinola won't be able to deliver what he threatens." Crew is talking rubbish. Akinola can deliver and he will. He has clergy and bishops he can send to these shores by the dozen and there are tens of thousands of Nigerian Anglicans in America looking for churches he can open.
In the meantime Crew's own diocese, the DIOCESE OF NEWARK will close 30 or more parishes over the next two years and his own bishop, John Croneberger has announced early retirement because his wife has been diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease. This bishop was as bad as Jack Spong his predecessor, but not nearly so in your face or articulate as Spong. He did vote for everything gay and death affirming including the new gay Bishop of New Hampshire. His successor will continue the diocese's death watch, Crew will see to that.
You can read all these stories in today's digest.
AND IN AUSTRALIA this week the trial of Bishop David Chislett got underway at the headquarters of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane. A panel of six Commissioners had put a series of questions to Bishop Chislett, and these formed the basis of the hearing. The Commissioners will deliberate further and in due course give Dr Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane, their opinion as to whether there is sufficient ground to warrant the removal of Bishop Chislett as Rector of All Saints, Wickham Terrace and priest of the diocese.
And in the DIOCESE OF RECIFE, Brazil, VirtueOnline obtained an exclusive interview with its orthodox Bishop Robinson Cavilcanti who is in a fight for his diocese against the revisionist Brazilian Archbishop Oliveira. You can read that story in today's digest.
TURNING TO THE US THIS WEEK, another parish in Montgomery, Alabama has split from the diocese and the national church after taking about all it could from Bishop Henry Parsley. The 1,600-member Church of the Ascension told the bishop enough was enough and they have left with more than 80 per cent of the congregation. Last week the Rev. John Michael Van Dyke, rector of the Church was told by the bishop he could not speak to an adult Bible class about the state of the Episcopal Church. The rector complied and now he has taken most of his congregation and fled the apostate bishop and formed a new parish in the Anglican Communion called "Christchurch." The new parish will meet at a Montgomery Presbyterian church until a permanent location is found. This is the second time in less than six months a Montgomery Episcopal church has split from the national church over its appointment of an openly gay bishop.
And in the DIOCESE OF ALABAMA a new twist in what is euphemistically called the "Discernment" process took place this week. A VirtueOnline reader wrote to say that he was told by a person wanting to work through the discernment process that as part of their "experiences" they are required to visit "gay bars" so that they will better understand the gays in potential parishes. "I just can't imagine why/how being hit on by gays in a bar could possibly make someone a better priest," he wrote. Another question might be what sort of gospel these new priests have to proclaim to gays. One doubts they have any. Inclusion is not the gospel, redemption is.
And in the DIOCESE OF NEWARK, their ultra liberal bishop John Croneberger is stepping down because his wife is ill. The diocese is in free fall with some 30-40 parishes ready to close. His replacement will be just as revisionist, you can be sure, Louie Crew will see to that. A woman priest in the diocese told VirtueOnline that Croneberger has three gay children which must be depressing enough in itself. The revisionist bishop voted to approve the election of V. Gene Robinson, spoke out against the war in Iraq and recently refused to enact a moratorium on blessing same-sex couples - even though other U.S. bishops had agreed to the temporary ban.
AND TO ADD yet another arrow to a mortally wounded church, a communique from a pro-life organization, the American Life League, says that the nation's largest abortion chain has invited Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson to keynote an interfaith prayer breakfast at Planned Parenthood's annual conference in Washington this month. In an interview with Planned Parenthood, Robinson said, "We encourage our folks to take this very private issue seriously. We urge them to talk to their priests about it and to think through all the questions they might have. And then we absolutely stand behind a woman's right to choose." He added a plug for Planned Parenthood's "extraordinarily fine work."
And in the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT, the pain is being ratcheted up on the six orthodox priests who have defied their revisionist bishop Andrew Smith. This week six retired orthodox bishops wrote to Smith telling him exactly what they think of his actions. You can read that in today's digest. Smith is threatening them with inhibition and deposition because they refuse to toe the pansexual line he demands of them.
One wonders how, every time The Episcopal Church falls on its sword, it manages to miss a vital organ; perhaps the idea is to have a slow painful death with accumulated wounds.
TODAY'S LEAD STORY is about the magnificent and wondrous growth of the church here in the Province of Southeast Asia. I am privileged to be here with brothers and sisters who are turned on to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and have one simple mission goal, and that is to make Christ known to all the cultures and peoples who inhabit this extraordinary Malaysian peninsula that teams with millions of souls.
At a lively and Spirit-filled ordination and a clergy conference that followed, I saw the best of the best, men and women drawn from many cultures declare their unwavering faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, the authority of Holy Scripture, and the urgent need to spread the gospel message to their fellow citizens and into the countries surrounding this beautiful land.
I feel privileged being here, and my soul is uplifted by what I am seeing. Please keep this church and reporter in your prayers.
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