Saturday, May 30, 2009

Children Forced Into Labour

*Sad. According to the article below, an estimated 126 million children in the world are working in hazardous conditions. Also some of the children comprising this group are sent out as slaves to work for wealthier families, forced to be soldiers, and others sexually exploited.


Economic Crisis Pushing More Children Into Forced Labour
by Lillian Kwon, Christian Post

The global economic crisis is forcing more children around the world into the worse forms of child labour, international relief and development organisation World Vision warns.

"Poverty drives people to desperate measures. And in dire situations, children become one of two things: a source of income or a drain on the income," Jesse Eaves, World Vision's policy adviser for children in crisis and a son of missionaries, told The Christian Post.

As demand from the West falls and the number of export-driven jobs decreases amid the economic downturn, businesses in countries like Cambodia, India and Thailand are likely to lay off workers without advanced warning, thus forcing families to find other income sources through their children.

In Cambodia, Eaves noted, 72 per cent of children in brick factories say they are there because their parents cannot afford to buy food and 22 per cent say their parents forced them to work to pay off debt.

In Phuket, Thailand, World Vision reported a dramatic increase in local and migrant children searching for work in tourist bars and clubs.

On the east coast of India, children are making gravel, smashing rocks in temperatures of nearly 40 degrees celsius for up to 16 hours a day, noted Eaves, who visited Southeast Asia earlier this year to examine the problems on the ground.

Already, 126 million children in the world are working in hazardous conditions and 1.2 million are trafficked and exploited every year as child labourers, Eaves pointed out. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking followed by forced labour and child soldiers.

"Many families are naive when recruiters come to their home and promise their 14-year-old daughter a wonderful job in the city," Eaves said. "Often, they fall into slavery and are forced to pay off an imaginary debt to keep them in bondage. But [the recruiters] often send money back to the parents so the parents think she's making money."

Families are also digging a deeper hole when they send children to work. Children earn 20 per cent less than the average labourer, said Eaves.

"So child labour causes poverty and poverty causes child labour. It's a dangerous spiral downward."

One way to break the cycle is to educate the community. World Vision is running programmes to educate children about their basic rights and on national laws regarding child labour. The children then inform their peers as well as their parents, turning their communities into a near "intelligence network", Eaves said.

Through the word-of-mouth network, attitudes toward child labour begin to change and women and children come out saying "we will not tolerate this anymore", Eaves explained.

They soon gain the support of local and national government officials and employers.

Families are further directed to obtain microcredit loans and start their own businesses.

"It's all about working with communities, changing their attitudes and the way they look at how they can earn a sustainable living," Eaves said.

People in the West also can play a major role in tackling child labour and exploitation.

"The key thing to understand with child labour is it begins and ends with you and me," Eaves said. "It's all about demand. We're part of the problem and part of the solution."

He added: "In Cambodia, in the same way they'll stand up and say they won't tolerate this, we can do the same thing."

World Vision is urging all government agencies and non-governmental organisations to include child-specific interventions in all economic development and stimulus plans.

"Right now it's appropriations time. A lot of money is being allocated. We're calling for US policy and foreign assistance to continue to take a child-focused approach," Eaves said.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lessons Learned From Bentley

*The article below is well written concerning the Lakeland Revival which was churning along a year ago in Florida. Excellent points made!


Lessons we can learn from Todd Bentley

by Burton Campbell

Just over thirteen months ago, the flamboyant and energetic Todd Bentley launched what was originally going to be a three night series of revival meetings in Lakeland, Florida. That opening weekend, in early April of 2008, suddenly turned into a two-meeting-per-day, seven-days-a-week, multi-month extravaganza marked by stories of angels, supernatural happenings, and divine healing. Along the way, thousands came from all over the globe to experience the gatherings for themselves, and millions more viewed it live via God TV’s international satellite and internet broadcasts. Hundreds claimed to be supernaturally healed by God during the “outpouring,” and numerous believers throughout the world became invigorated and bold in their proclamation of God’s Kingdom come.

In mid-August 2008, Todd stepped away from the revival (and ultimately from the ministry organization he founded) in disgrace as the revelation came that he was involved in an unhealthy relationship with a staff member, in addition to other areas of moral and doctrinal concern. Within a few months, Bentley divorced his wife and immediately married the other woman. The frustration, fallout, and division that has since ensued throughout much of the Church has been incalculable, as has the potential hardening of hearts to both the Gospel of Christ and the understanding that God still works supernaturally in the lives of people.

With a bit of hindsight now engaged, here are four lessons to be learned from Todd Bentley and the “Lakeland Outpouring.”

  • Outward demonstration of the Kingdom of God is irrelevant without inner transformation. God isn’t as interested in what people do as much as He is in who people are becoming. The outward show is nothing without true character change. Christ’s sermon on the mount emphasized eight ways to be. People may have been initially drawn by the Lord’s miraculous signs and wonders, but they stayed because of His love, compassion, humble service and authenticity. Paul’s letter to the Romans indicates man’s destiny is about conforming to the image of Christ. The sad truth is that Christians today get accused of many things, but rarely is it of being like Christ. The Bentley debacle should serve as a divine wake-up call.
  • The promotion of the "super apostle" is a mistake. There is no question that God utilizes individuals for divine purposes. Both the scripture and church history is replete with example after example of how God has worked powerfully through the lives of specific people. Yet, His intention is the empowerment of all believers. There is not some special hierarchy of people whom God loves more than the rest. Vocational ministers may serve a unique role in the Body of Christ, but God is wanting to work through all who call on His name and live for Him. When people become enamored with individuals and begin to believe that some are more inherently “anointed” than others (or than they, themselves, could ever be), they are easily prone to making severe errors in judgment regarding the fallibility of men and God’s intentions for His Church.
  • Ministers and believers alike must go the extra mile to restore public trust. There is no question that those who claim to follow Christ have an uphill battle to climb in showcasing the character of God to the public, especially those who serve in a ministry office. There is a generalized view that ministers are corrupt and self-serving. The pervasive perception of the church is that it is phony, mask-wearing and hypocritical. This can only be changed by the open transparency of Christians who will do whatever it takes to live honestly and demonstrate accountability, who will lovingly serve, listen and showcase humility, and who will readily admit imperfections without becoming defensive even as they exhibit true repentance.
  • God works powerfully through those who will believe. When Jesus walked this earth, He was in the business of bringing the reality of God’s presence into the lives of everyday people. The risen Jesus is still doing just that, but now through the lives of those who have surrendered to Him. That presence is revealed through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit as seen in both transformed character and power for ministry. God still loves, still saves, still rescues, still comforts, still forgives, still heals, still speaks, and still performs signs and wonders. He does it through those who will dare to believe and depend on Him. Where there is the combination of humble, loving character and a confident trust in the miracle working power of God, there is an opportunity for explosive, dynamic impact that brings real and lasting change to the world. Let’s choose to strive for that!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Cover Up

*Interesting article below on the abuse of children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. The extent by which those seated in elevated positions tried to cover up such incidents is truly disconcerting.


Catholic Church Shamed By Irish Abuse Report

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN – After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland's castaway children.

The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests.

The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s.

Wednesday's five-volume report on the probe — which was resisted by Catholic religious orders — concluded that church officials shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

"A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from," Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded.

Victims of the abuse, who are now in their 50s to 80s, lobbied long and hard for an official investigation. They say that for all its incredible detail, the report doesn't nail down what really matters — the names of their abusers.

"I do genuinely believe that it would have been a further step towards our healing if our abusers had been named and shamed," said Christine Buckley, 62, who spent the first 18 years of her life in a Dublin orphanage where children were forced to manufacture rosaries — and were humiliated, beaten and raped whether they achieved their quota or not.

The Catholic religious orders that ran more than 50 workhouse-style reform schools from the late 19th century until the mid-1990s offered public words of apology, shame and regret Wednesday. But when questioned, their leaders indicated they would continue to protect the identities of clergy accused of abuse — men and women who were never reported to police, and were instead permitted to change jobs and keep harming children.

The Christian Brothers, which ran several boys' institutions deemed to have harbored serial child molesters and sadists on their staff, insisted it had cooperated fully with the probe. The order successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.

The Christian Brothers' leader in Ireland, Brother Kevin Mullan, said the organization had been right to keep names secret because "perhaps we had doubts about some of the allegations."

"But on the other hand, I'd have to say that at this stage, we have no interest in protecting people who were perpetrators of abuse," Mullan said, vowing to "cooperate fully with any investigation or any civil authority seeking to explore those matters."

Buckley, who said she was abused at an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy, which ran several refuges for girls where the report documented chronic brutality, said the religious orders for years branded the victims as money-seeking liars — and were incapable of admitting their guilt today.

She criticized Mullan for suggesting that "today, having read the report, he doesn't mind if the abusers are named and shamed. Isn't that a little bit late for us?"

The report found that molestation and rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.

"In some schools a high level of ritualized beating was routine. ... Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body," the report said. "Personal and family denigration was widespread."

Ireland's myriad religious orders, much like their mother church, have been devastated by 15 years of scandals involving past cover-ups of abusers in their ranks.

The Christian Brothers have withdrawn from running several schools that still bear their name and the order has had few recruits in Ireland in the past two decades. Other orders are down to a handful of members, and their bases are closer to nursing homes than active missions.

"Most of these orders will literally die out in Ireland within the next generation or so," said Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper in Dublin. "Many of them are already in wind-up mode. They lack the confidence even to seek new vocations (recruits), due to the stigma associated with their members' shocking, scandalous behavior."

The Irish government, which in 1999 apologized for its role in permitting decades of abuse and established the commission to nail down the full truth of the matter, has tried to use money to bring closure to the victims.

A government-appointed panel has paid 12,000 survivors of the schools, orphanages and other church-run residences an average of $90,000 each — on condition they surrender their right to sue either the church or state. About 2,000 more claims are pending. Irish Catholic leaders cut a controversial deal with the government in 2001 that capped the church's contribution at $175 million — a fraction of the final cost.

Some victims emphasized, even as they began thumbing through the report, that nothing — not even criminal convictions of their long-ago tormentors — will ever put right their psychological wounds and make their nightmares go away.

Tom Sweeney, who spent five years in two Christian Brothers-run institutions where he was placed for truancy, says he suffered sexual abuse and beatings. He also has bitter memories about more everyday humiliations — such as being forced to wrap his urine-stained sheets around his neck and parade in front of other children when he'd wet his bed.

"It's something you'll never forget, the way you lived in these industrial schools," he said.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poll May Indicate Changing Views On Abortion

*This is an interesting article concerning a Gallup poll on abortion conducted recently in the United States. It’s quite positive as more respondents considered themselves pro-life as opposed to pro-choice!


Majority of Americans Are Pro-Life for the First Time

by Fox News

Fifty-one percent of Americans consider themselves "pro-life" and just 42 percent say they are "pro-choice," the first time a majority of the country has stated a personal objection to abortion since Gallup polls began tracking the data 15 years ago.

The numbers correspond with FOX News polls this month showing 49 percent of Americans as pro-life and 43 percent as pro-choice on abortion. Last year the numbers were essentially the reverse of the current findings: 41 percent were pro-life and 49 percent were pro-choice in September 2008.

The Gallup poll released Friday also marks a massive shift from one year ago, when 50 percent of Americans called themselves pro-choice, and just 44 percent said they were pro-life. Today 42 percent say they are pro-choice, by far the lowest level of support for abortion ever measured by the Gallup poll.

Despite that change in opinion, most Americans still believe that abortion should remain legal. Yet Gallup reports that the new numbers come in stark contrast with the last four years, when polls found a strong tilt of public opinion in favor of unrestricted abortions, which is now declining.

Fifty-three percent say abortions should remain legal under certain circumstances, and nearly equal numbers take hard-line views -- 23 percent say it should be illegal in all circumstances, and 22 percent say it should be legal no matter what.

The sample study of 1,015 adults was conducted from May 7-10 and has a margin of error of 3 points. Though the changes were notable for a single-year period, they were not an anomaly -- Gallup conducted two more polls on the issue and came out with nearly identical results.

The big jump came mostly from moderates and conservatives, whose personal opposition to abortion jumped 7 and 5 points respectively. Liberal support for abortion also increased this year.

Support for abortions has wavered among men and women in recent years, but Gallup noted that for the first time in nearly a decade significantly more men and women are pro-life than pro-choice.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Rise In Hate Groups

I found this interesting article on the growth of hate groups in a particular California county. The Southern Poverty Center now asserts such groups are on the rise across the nation. Also notice the recent killing of a Jewish student by a man who hated a young woman--Johanna Justin-Jinich-- simply because she was a Jew (read more here ). Authorities later found writings from the murderer, Stephen Morgan describing a plan to create a "Jewish Columbine". I do not know if they have linked him to any particular hate organization, but even individuals can certainly act on their hate alone.


SLO County home to three hate groups, Sheriff's officials say

by Bob Cuddy

But the Ku Klux Klan and skinheads haven’t been causing much trouble locally, sheriff officials say

Three organized hate groups have a presence in San Luis Obispo County, according to the annual report from a national organization that has tracked such organizations for decades.

But the presence of the Ku Klux Klan and two skinhead groups is minimal, according to the county Sheriff’s Department, which monitors these groups.

Hate groups — skinheads, American Nazis, Christian Identity, Ku Klux Klan and others — are on the rise, closing in on 1,000 nationwide, according to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

There are now 926 such groups in the United States, up from 888 in 2007 and 602 in 2000 — a 54 percent increase in eight years, according to “The Year in Hate,” the SPLC’s report.

“It’s been a long, steady climb,” Potok told The Tribune, driven “almost entirely by (hate groups’) exploitation of the immigration issue.”

While there are legitimate questions around immigration, hate groups jump on those and distort and magnify them.

And while anti-immigrant sentiment has long been a staple in California and the Southwest, Potok noted, it is not confined to that region.

“It’s animating hate groups from sea to shining sea,” he said.

Adding to that is the struggling economy. During hard times, people having economic trouble seek a scapegoat, Potok said.

Further, the U.S. Census Bureau is projecting that by 2042, whites will no longer be the majority in the United States.

These groups talk to each other, and “that’s driving them out of their minds,” Potok said.

The increased anti-immigration sentiment is a change in focus from the anti-black and anti-Semitic activity that has traditionally defined domestic hate groups.

But those traditional targets have not been forgotten.

The presidential campaign and election that brought Barack Obama to the fore also ratcheted up hate group activity, the SPLC said.

The three groups the Southern Poverty Law Center says are in San Luis Obispo County include the Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with headquarters in Marion, Ohio, which Potok says is the largest Klan group, with 46 chapters.

Rob Bryn, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Department, says law enforcement generally uses the Southern Poverty Law Center’s information, but his department has not recorded any activity by the Klans Knights here.

Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.

The same lack of activity is true of the second group, the National Socialist Skinhead Front, defined by the SPLC as a “racist skinhead group.”

The third, the Golden State Skinheads, another “racist skinhead group,” has had “a little bit of activity,” but “nothing that would cause us any concern,” Bryn said.

Bryn said the county “monitors the illegal activity of certain organized groups.” Some are involved in guns, drugs, chop shops and other outlawed behavior, he said.

The nation’s deadliest domestic terrorism action was the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168.

That was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, a deranged ex-Army sharpshooter and gun show devotee who interacted with hate groups but did not join any of them, preferring to follow the tactic of becoming a lone insurgent.

There have been other, less violent and visible incidents over the years, and Oklahoma City itself reported a rise of hate groups in 2008 — including both white and African-American groups that target gays.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May Update

*Just want to inform I will not be able to post on this blog for about ten days or so.

Allegedly From Church Bulletins:

* Thursday night - Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

* Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

* Don’t let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Man Claims To Be Christ

Matthew 24:23-24
23) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24) For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

*I don't know how people have fallen for this guy...and all his lies, and all the contradictions to the Word of God.


Hundreds celebrate a man they believe to be Jesus Christ reincarnated

By Christina Hernandez, WINK News

GOLDEN GATE, Fla. - A man claiming to be Jesus Christ reincarnated had a birthday party Friday. Hundreds gathered in Golden Gate to celebrate their Christmas - the birthday of a Miami man who says he is Jesus Christ the man.

His name is Jose Luis de Jesus. In 1973, he said angels came to him in a dream and told him he is the second of coming of Jesus Christ. He has millions of followers nationwide, and hundreds gathered in Naples to celebrate his birthday a few days early.

"This is part of my life," one follower, Brenda Lopez said.

"Our apostle, Jose Luis de Jesus, is God on Earth. He is the second coming of Jesus," another believer said.

People came from Miami, and even all the way from Massachusetts.

A believer said, "God is on Earth again - the second coming of God, the man Christ Jesus."

Jose Luis de Jesus refers to himself as 'The Man Christ Jesus' and he believes there is no sin, the devil does not exist, and 666 is the number of God himself.

"It's the most beautiful number that one person can have on his body because it's the number of the name of God," a tattooed man said.

The symbol is permanently marked on arms, worn around necks, and even stuck to vehicles.

"This number is the number of a man," Lopez said.

The Growing in Grace movement survives through donations, and this so called second coming brings in 1.4 million dollars a year. Some followers donate cars, homes, and large sums of money to the man who claims to be Jesus Christ.

Everyone at the birthday party believes Jesus is back, but many others aren't convinced.

"Listen to him, and then judge the words that come out of his mouth," one believer advised.

"Just like Jesus of Nazareth - a lot of people didn't believe who he was either. I believe that he is who he is because everything that he says, he has confirmed it in the true gospel," another said.

WINK News spoke with some preachers about this man who claims to be 'Jesus Christ Man', and despite his national attention, the religious leaders we spoke with have never heard of him.

This man was a heroin addict at 14-years-old and has even served time in jail for theft.