||FIRST, THE NEWS:
WILL EUROPE'S THIRD-LARGEST CHURCH PUNISH PASTOR FOR MULTIPLE AFFAIRS?
from: Christianity Today
(17 May) The controversial founder of one of Europe's largest Protestant churches is battling some in his church leadership over his reaction to multiple affairs. Sunday Adelaja, a Nigerian pastor who leads the charismatic Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, has admitted to having affairs with parishioners. The confession came one month after he posted a video on his blog titled “Sexual Sin Is Not Enough to Take You to Hell.”
The female parishioners revealed the affairs to other area pastors, who then took the information public, according to the Council of Bishops of Christian Evangelical Churches of Ukraine. (English version here.) The leaders warned Ukrainian Christians about Adelaja, also noting previous allegations that he bilked investors of $100 million in a Ponzi scheme called King's Capital.
Earlier, a website called ZimEye claimed to have exposed Adelaja by having an undercover reporter pose as a “prophet” and secretly record a February phone call with the pastor. The elders of Embassy of God publicly dismissed the report as a prank. “If you have listened to the audio recording which was fraudulently obtained, you will notice that Pastor Sunday never once admitted to any wrong doing as the caller was suggesting in his prophetic utterances,” stated the elders.
The elders — which include Adelaja’s wife Bose and three others — noted that Adelaja has already acknowledged that he “has had several sexual challenges and has by God’s grace being able to overcome them. Pastor Sunday has always shared with the world that he is in a position to help minister to the world only because he himself has had his own share of trials including sexual trials, problems and victories,” stated the elders. [read more...]
KAZAKHSTAN: FINES, PRISON, DESTRUCTION OF RELIGIOUS LITERATURE
by Felix Corley: Forum 18 News Service
(11 May) Short-term Baptist prisoner of conscience Roman Dimmel spent three days in prison in Kazakhstan's Karaganda Region in early May for refusing to pay a fine handed down in 2015 for offering Christian literature and sharing his faith, Forum 18 has learned. The village where he was offering religious literature has no place where it can legally be distributed. He has already served an earlier three-day prison term and been banned from leaving Kazakhstan because of the unpaid fine.
In a separate case, two fellow Baptists have been fined in Kostanai Region for offering Christian literature on the streets. A criminal case on charges of inciting religious hatred was dropped. The Christian books, leaflets and discs seized from them have been ordered destroyed. An official of the Regional Religious Affairs Department - which would carry out the destruction - told Forum 18 they would do so if the lower court verdict is confirmed on appeal.
Yevgeni Zhovtis of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law condemned the court order to destroy books seized from Kabduakasov and others in the case. "It is barbarism to destroy books," he told Forum 18 in December 2015. "And it makes the authorities in Kazakhstan - who position themselves as modernising the country - look from the cultural point of view like the Taliban or ISIS." [read more...]
AUCCRO MEMBERS MET WITH STUDENTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WHO ARE INTERESTED IN UKRAINE
from: Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(19 May) Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations met with students oft Harvard University who are interested in the developments in Ukraine and united in the group “The Group for Tomorrow's Ukraine.” AUCCRO was represented by the head of the UGCC, Patriarch Sviatoslav, the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich, chairman of the Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine Ahmed Tamim and Kyivan Patriarchate Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zoria).
During the meeting the UGCC Head stressed that in the first place for churches and religious organizations is always human dignity. And this is what unites them. He added that such unity to tone sets the Ukrainian society. Student Yulian Hayda, who is co-founder of “The Group for Tomorrow's Ukraine,” has told in the commentary to the Information Department of the UGCC that this organization is engaged in different projects that aim to increase the level of interest in western Ukraine.
“Communication between the Churches in Ukraine today is a symbol of unity of Ukrainians. So we decided with my colleagues to meet with the leaders of churches in Ukraine. My colleagues were impressed with the level of relations between Ukrainian churches. And we want to tell about it everywhere, because often we hear a lot of false information about the state of affairs in Ukraine,” Yulian Hayda notes. [read more...]
KAZAKHSTAN: PUNISHED FOR 'CONDUCTING WORSHIP MEETINGS' - FOR DRINKING TEA IN A CAFE
by Felix Corley: Forum 18 News Service
(13 May) Nikolai Levin from Kazakhstan's Akmola Region has been fined again for refusing to pay an earlier fine for leading his religious community, Forum 18 has learned. He is already among many of his fellow Baptists on the exit blacklist and the home where his church meets is under a restraining order. Two Protestants from Atyrau have been prosecuted for "violating the procedure for conducting religious meetings" by drinking tea with other church members after a Sunday service.
Under Kazakhstan's restrictive 2011 Religion Law, citizens and foreigners resident in Kazakhstan require state permission before they can speak to others about their faith. Those who violate this can be fined for illegal "missionary activity" - and if they are foreigners, they can also be deported. [read more...]
RUSSIAN CHURCH DESTINED TO CHANGE WESTERN ATTITUDE TO CHRISTIANITY - PATRIARCH KIRILL
(19 May) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes that the answer to the banishment of Christianity on a global scale is one of the challenges facing the Russian Church. "We accept the new challenges that our Church is facing with dignity, and these challenges are very formidable and have a global nature. And, probably, the most difficult and important challenge is the changing attitude to faith and Christianity in many countries of Europe and America," the patriarch said following a prayer service in the St. Daniel Monastery in Moscow on Thursday.
Christians are currently going through difficult times: "the Church is banished from the public space under the influence of false philosophical and political beliefs," the patriarch said. He also appraised the situation with the Church in Russia: "Today our Church has considerable support from people and social organizations. We have kind and, as the saying goes, constructive dialogue with the country's authorities and it certainly promotes the solution of many issues," he said. [read more...]
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH MUST STOP FLIRTING WITH ANTI-FAMILY IDEOLOGIES: ROMANIAN DOCTOR
from: Lifesite News
(16 May) Instead of leading faithful Catholics in battle against forces of evil that seek to undermine and erase Christianity’s mark on civilization, the Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis is kowtowing to problematic ideological systems that are opposed to life, family, the well-being of society, and ultimately, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, said Dr. Anca Cernea of Romania in a talk given at an international life-and-family conference in Rome last week. She urged conference participants to earnestly pray that Catholic shepherds return to their primary “duty” of saving souls through evangelization and conversion.
“We are worried to see the Church descending into an earthly ideologically-contaminated activism that encourages some ‘progressive’ groups that have a perfect plan on how to build a perfect world (after they are done with this one) - like the ‘popular movements,’ environmentalists, pacifists, indigenists, ‘anti-discrimination’ activists, and ‘population experts,’” she said during her May 6 talk given at the Rome Life Forum taking place in the Hotel Columbus, located steps away from St. Peter’s Basilica. Cernea, who has lived and suffered under a communist regime, said that language used by Pope Francis in his encyclicals Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si' is especially concerning since it appears to come more from ideological textbooks inspired by communism rather than from the Gospel of Jesus.
“Terms like ‘inclusion,’ ‘exclusion,’ ‘marginalization,’ ‘inequality,’ and ‘sustainable development’ are frequent,” she pointed out. Cernea warned conference participants that there are real “spirits of evil” that are seeking to “re-design human society and human nature” that must first be recognized as the source of the assault on God’s creation before they and their plans can effectively be opposed. She said that one label that can be applied to the systematic attack on life, marriage, family, and sexuality is “Cultural Marxism,” one of “Russia’s errors.”
She said that Marxist revolutionaries will always use their power against Christianity. “Then we shouldn’t be surprised if society is secularized, charity is replaced by welfare, education is replaced by ideological indoctrination and outright moral perversion, the care for the sick is replaced by euthanasia, freedom of conscience and of speech is replaced by government-imposed political correctness, and citizen’s life is regulated in detail by social engineers, the culture of life and family is constantly losing ground.” [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
RUSSIA: 2015 PROSECUTIONS FOR PUBLICLY SHARING BELIEFS
from Forum 18 News Service
UKRAINIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS STAND FOR INDEPENDENT AND JUST JUDICIAL SYSTEM
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
ORPHAN GRADUATE PROGRAM PROVIDES HOPE IN RUSSIA
from Mission Network News
SPREAD OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PUTS WORLD IN MORAL CATASTROPHE - ZORKIN
FOR SAKE OF RECOGNITION, UOC(KP) IS READY TO PUT OFF TEMPORARILY THE TITLE OF 'PATRIARCHATE'
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
METR. HILARION: CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND PROTESTANT COMMUNITIES
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
UKRAINE: ROXANA’S STORY
from Mission Eurasia
GEORGIA: FOUR-DAY SUMMIT 'WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES' ON 15 MAY
from World Congress of Families
OLD BELIEVERS: LIFE CENTURIES AFTER A RELIGIOUS SCHISM
from Russia Beyond the Headlines
THE HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIANITY IN MOLDOVA
from Linns.com News
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Our first news article WILL EUROPE'S THIRD-LARGEST CHURCH PUNISH PASTOR FOR MULTIPLE AFFAIRS? touches on a very timely subject: sexual and financial misdeeds by clergy. In St. Paul's first letter to Timothy we read - "The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching; not a drinker, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous" (1 Tim. 3:2-3). And to Titus he wrote - "I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you; if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior. For the overseer must be blameless, as God's steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain" (Tit. 1:5-7). In each text St. Paul stresses that a church leader must be faithful to his wife (singular, not multiple spouses), and not be greedy for money or any dishonest gain.
To the church in Ephesus he wrote - "But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints" (Eph. 5:3). And to the church in Corinth - "I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person" (1 Cor. 5:9-11).
It should be clear from all these passages that sexual sin and greed must not be tolerated in the church, especially among spiritual leaders. From the early Church and up to the present among Orthodox Christians, these are cause for permanent removal from clergy, and any such further sin would lead to excommunication. Concerning Pastor Sunday's claim - “Sexual Sin Is Not Enough to Take You to Hell,” St. Paul wrote - "Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Don't you know the Bible, Pastor Sunday?
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Get Greed Out of the House of God
"The Seven Deadly Sins" in this cartoon are depicted as funny beings we can laugh at and enjoy. In fact, Satan wants us to believe that gratifying our passions is the greatest good, the main purpose of life.
But God tells us - "Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry; for their sake the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience" (Col. 3:5-6). Greed is idolatry. That means greed is a false god. It should have no place in the Church, the house of the living God.
How many criticisms are leveled against the Church because of greed by the clergy and ordinary members? These critics reject Christianity because it isn't living up to its own standards. But in criticizing the Church, these critics are implicitly agreeing that such standards are correct. The issue isn't because our standards are wrong, but rather because of our failure to live up to them. Human beings, including the critics of the Church, are imperfect and sinful, which means we all fail at times to live up to the standards of what is good and right. The Bible is perhaps our greatest critic - let's take a look at what the Bible says about greed:
You may recall the Old Testament story of how Naaman, the Syrian military commander who had leprosy, came to the prophet Elisha for healing. After he plunged himself into the River Jordan seven times and was cleansed of his disease he offered Elisha a gift of money, which the prophet refused. So Naaman left. Here's the rest of the story -
"But Gehazi the servant of Elisha, the man of God, thought, 'Look, my master has refrained from taking what this Aramean Naaman brought from his hand. As the Lord lives, I will certainly run after him, and I will accept something from him.' So Gehazi pursued after Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he jumped off his chariot to meet him and asked him, 'Is it peace?' He said, 'Peace. My master has sent me saying, "Look, just now two servants from the hill country of Ephraim came to me, from the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing."' Then Naaman said, 'Be prepared to accept two talents.' So he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing and gave it to two of his servants and they carried it before him.
When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, then sent away the men so that they went. When he went and stood by his master, Elisha asked him, 'From where have you come, Gehazi?' And he said, 'Your servant has not gone anywhere.' Then he said to him, 'Did not my heart go with you as the man turned from on his chariot to meet you? Is it time to take silver, clothes, olive orchards, vineyards, sheep, oxen, male slaves, and female slaves? The skin disease of Naaman shall cling to you and to your offspring forever.' Then he went out from before him having a skin disease like the snow" (2 Kings 5:20-27).
Gehazi's greed cost him his position as Elisha's servant, and instead he got the leprosy that Naaman was cured of. It is very tempting to think that nobody will know if you take "just a little" for yourself from money donated to the Lord. A few chapters later, we read how the priests were taking for themselves money that people donated for repairing the house of God. So King Jehoash commanded better accountability - "So the priests agreed not to take money from the people without repairing the damage to the temple. Then Jehoiada the priest took a certain chest and bored a hole in its lid, and he put it beside the altar to the right as a man enters into the temple of the Lord; then the priests who were keepers of the threshold would put there all of the money brought into the temple. When they saw a great deal of money in the chest, the secretary of the king and the high priest would come up, put the money in bags, then count the money found in the temple of the Lord. They placed the money, which was weighed out, into the hands of the workers who were appointed over the temple of the Lord, and they paid it to the skilled craftsmen of wood and to the builders working on the temple of the Lord" (2 Kings 12:8-11). Two unrelated persons, one from the king and one from the priests, counted and dispersed the money. This is proper auditing of finances.
When a rich young man came to Jesus and asked how he could inherit eternal life, Jesus first reminded him of the commandments, to which the young man said he kept them all. Then - "Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, 'One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.' But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. Jesus looked around, and said to his disciples, 'How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!' The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again, 'Children, how hard is it for those who trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God'" (Mark 10:21-25).
The "needle's eye" was a small gate in the city wall that a man could barely go through by stooping over. The only conceivable way a camel could get through this tiny gate was if all its load of goods would be taken off, and the camel got down on its knees and crawled through. So the only way we can enter the Kingdom of God is to unload ourselves of trusting in this world's goods. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught -
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Bob & Cheryl
p.s. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings;
the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. -W. Churchill