Showing posts with label Hispanic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hispanic. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What I Learned About Racism From Atticus Finch - LEE GRADY CHARISMA MAGAZINE

A scene from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

A scene from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (YouTube)

Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady
Besides the Bible, To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book in the world—and the movie version is my favorite film. That's partly because I'm a Southerner who appreciates this painfully probing look at Southern racism. I also love the novel because no one has ever made fictional characters come to life better than author Harper Lee.
Atticus Finch, the small-town Alabama lawyer who defends a black man in a rape trial in the 1930s, is a hero to me because of his courage to fight social injustice. I feel as if I know him, along with Atticus' children, Jem and Scout; their black maid, Calpurnia; their neighbors Miss Maudie and Mrs. Dubose; the mysterious Boo Radley; and Tom Robinson, the man who is falsely accused of rape in a biased culture that refused to believe a black man could ever be innocent.
I thought of Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson many times last week. I wished I could have invited them over to my house for a glass of iced tea. We would have a lot to talk about.
On July 4th we celebrated Independence Day, and then we mourned for the next few days—first because of the questionable killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, in Louisiana and Minnesota, and then because of the shooting of five police officers in Dallas during a peaceful protest. Not since the 1960s has America felt such overwhelming racial tension.
As I listened to the chatter on the news and on social media last week, I couldn't help but remember Atticus' advice to his daughter. He told Scout: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
Isn't that what we should do today? We cannot hope to rid ourselves of the spirit of racism that haunts our country until we sincerely try to understand each other.
Atticus Finch felt compassion for his black client, Tom Robinson, because he drove to Tom's house in the country and sat on his front porch and got to know his family. He saw the fear on Tom's face and heard the racial slurs he endured from local townsfolk. Atticus saw the world from Tom's perspective. Atticus' children learned the same lesson when they went to church with Calpurnia and saw how black Christians worshiped.
That's the only way we're going to end this ugly racial divide. We have to talk to each other. We have to sit on our porches together. We have to become friends and share each other's burdens. We have to worship together. Laws alone will never tear down the walls of racism. Only compassion can destroy this evil.
I was not born black so I don't understand what my black friends have experienced. I have never been stopped by a police officer and interrogated when I wasn't doing anything wrong. I have never walked into a store and felt people staring at me or treating me with suspicion. I have never had to endure racial slurs. I have never been turned down for a job interview because of my race.
But I have black and Hispanic friends who have experienced racial cruelty. I've listened to their pain. I put myself in their place. I crawled into their skin.
When will we stop being afraid of each other?
Jesus attacked the root of racism when He told the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. He taught us that God's love requires us to stop and show compassion to people who are not from our racial background. His parable shocked his Jewish audience because Jews hated Samaritans and didn't want to go anywhere near them.
Yet in His parable Jesus put a Samaritan in a positive light. He smashed the ugly stereotypes and challenged racial pride. Then, when He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His disciples to take the gospel to Samaria (Acts 1:8)—a reminder that Christians must never let racial divisions stop them from advancing the kingdom of God.
It's true: Encoded in the Great Commission is a direct command to cross racial lines. That means we really are not obeying Christ's most serious mandate if we stay in our segregated safe zones. Christianity is not fully authentic unless it is multiracial.
Atticus Finch was right. The only way to eradicate racism is to fight it with love. Politicians will make speeches and propose laws, and protesters will demand stricter gun control and police reform. But the stronghold of American racism won't crumble until Christians get serious about building real friendships with the people we once hated or feared. 
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, 10 Lies Men Believe, Fearless Daughters of the Bible and The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project,
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cuba Lifts Bible Ban, Could Revival Follow?

Cuba Lifts Bible Ban, Could Revival Follow?

Cathedral in Havana, Cuba
Cathedral in Havana, Cuba (Flickr/Artur Staszewski)
Since 1969, the Castro regime has banned Bible distribution in Cuba. But now, under an experimental program in the island nation, the Communist government is lifting the ban, creating new avenues to feed millions hungry for the Word.
While organizations like Revival Fires and the American Bible Society are hard at work printing and distributing the Bibles to the Cuban people, many are wondering what might come from this drastic change in policies. Could the floodgates of spiritual blessing and revival be about to burst forth?
The path forward could be complicated, according to a prophetic word issued by the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders:
There is a call of revival in Cuba that is connected with Miami. The largest Hispanic group in Miami is Cuban. Fidel Castro exiled them and drove them out of Cuba over religious, political and economic issues. When he closed the borders, many escaped and have since become American citizens.

However, a deep wound is in their heart because Castro displaced them and removed their inheritance.

Now a new generation has arisen in Florida. However, this generation is indoctrinated by the wounds of the past generation and they have much bitterness toward Cuba.
Though the path to healing and redemption for those injured by Castro's injustices may be far from over, God is more than capable of working a miracle here. The fact that millions of Cubans will now have free access to Bibles for the first time in nearly 50 years is proof enough that He's already on the job.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fast-Growing Hispanic Evangelical Population Steps Up Support for Israel

Fast-Growing Hispanic Evangelical Population Steps Up Support for Israel

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
Against the backdrop of growing threats facing Israel at home and abroad, one of the fastest-growing ethnoreligious segments in the U.S. is stepping up its support for the Jewish state.
At the forefront of the interests of America’s Hispanic Evangelical Christian population is the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/Conela. Claiming to represent more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals in the U.S., NHCLC/Conela is now beginning to wield its considerable influence for the purpose of standing up for Israel.
NHCLC—which earlier merged with Conela, a Latin American organization that serves more than 500,000 Latin churches across the world—states that its vision is to “exercise prophetic leadership by reconciling the vertical and horizontal planes of the Christian message, sanctification with service, conviction with compassion, the image of God with the habits of Christ, holiness and humility, John 3:16 and Matthew 25, and the prophetic with the practical.”
The organization adds that it is looking to “enrich the narrative of American Evangelicalism by replacing the media exacerbated image of angry white evangelicals who oppose everything to a convicted yet compassionate multi-ethnic kingdom culture community committed to sharing truth with love.”
“We seek to combine the message of Rev. Bill Graham of salvation with that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march of prophetic activism,” Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of NHCLC/Conela, told
“That being said, our commitment to the Jewish people and Israel is also without compromise.” he said.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, Hispanics are one of the fastest-growing segments of the Evangelical Christian population, with 16 percent of American Hispanics identifying as Evangelical in 2013, up from 12 percent in 2010. Similar trends have developed in Latin America, where Protestants now make up 19 percent of the population, with 69 percent of them belonging to Evangelical churches.
These “Evangelicos” have an above-average enthusiasm for their faith. They display this fervor by attending church services, praying more, and strongly adhering to moral teachings, according to Pew. This Hispanic Evangelical surge has come at the expense of Roman Catholicism, which traditionally has been the faith of the vast majority of Hispanics and has historically shaped their outlook.
As the leader of one of the largest Hispanic organizations in the U.S., Rev. Rodriguez has spoken at the White House and frequently consults with federal legislators from both parties on such issues as social justice, the Latino community, and values.
Support for Israel has become a key aspect of the mission of many Evangelical Christian organizations, as is the case for the Evangelical movement as a whole. While Rodriguez said that most Hispanic Evangelicals are “absolutely committed to Israel,” he is concerned about the surge in anti-Semitism in the Latino world, especially among the younger generation.
While Latin America is home to many large and prosperous Jewish communities, most anti-Semitism in the region comes from the traditional sources based on prejudices inherited from Europe, especially from the Spanish Inquisition, as well as modern anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric promoted by far-left elements like former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
The Israel Bible: The Ultimate Way to Connect with the Land of Israel
Rodriguez said the mainstream media’s portrayal of Israel is one of the main culprits behind opposition to Israel among the younger demographic, especially in light of the recent summer war in Gaza—which sparked upsurge in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attacks around the world, including in Latin America.
“Many Latinos have in essence absorbed the mainstream media message that Israel is an aggressive, antagonistic force in the Middle East, where Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are suffering at the hands of Israel,” said Rodriguez.
“Most Hispanics want to do justice and they want to align themselves with those who are marginalized and suffering. So they see the Palestinian community as suffering at the hands of the Israeli government,” he said.
In order to combat this, Rodriguez has formulated a two-pronged approach.
“My job is to convince young Latino people that supporting Israel actually works for the good of all in the Middle East,” he said. “First by affirming the nearly 150 million Latino Evangelicals across the world in their commitment to Israel, then by elevating what we currently have in our community to teach about Israel to the wider Latino community.”
In order to spread this message, Rodriguez said it is important to “speak the truth about Israel” in order to counter the lies being spread about the Jewish state in the mainstream media.
“Israel is the sole democracy in that part of the world and a safeguard for religious pluralism. … When I go to Israel I meet with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders. Israel is not persecuting Christians and Muslims. Israel is providing a space under democracy for religious pluralism to serve as an antidote against secular or even religious totalitarianism. Israel is not the problem, Israel is the solution,” he said.
NHCLC/Conela recently formed a partnership with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), one of the largest Christian Zionist organizations in the world. Since 1980, ICEJ has hosted the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. This year, the event drew more than 5,000 Christians from 80 countries.
Rodriguez sees the partnership with ICEJ and the Feast of Tabernacles as a rallying point for Hispanic Evangelicals to come to Israel every year and experience the country.
“The Evangelical movement has experienced tremendous growth in the Latino world over recent decades and it is exciting to see their support and enthusiasm for Israel,” ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Juergen Buehler told
“It is an indigenous expression of solidarity based on solid biblical grounds, and we are thrilled that our annual Feast of Tabernacles will be a channel for these Hispanic Christians to convey their love and concern directly to the Israeli people,” added Buehler.
In light of the recent surge of Palestinian terrorism and rioting in Jerusalem and across Israel, Rodriguez said that Israel and Jews can count on the support of Hispanic Evangelicals.
“My message to Israel and the Jewish people is that there is a Hispanic Christian community emerging that will not abandon Israel or the Jewish people,” he said. “We will build a firewall against anti-Semitism, and we will do that with integrity and compassion.”


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"You Must Believe!" - Robbie Phillips (Present Word Ministries) - English & Spanish

Robbie & Betty Phillips, 
with Abbi & Betty Maley Phillips

 Present Word Ministries
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches’

July 8 & 9, 2013

 "You Must Believe!"
But without faith it's impossible to please Him, for whoever comes to God must believe
that He exists and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!
– Hebrews 11:6

            It seems to me like I've been in a 'difficult place' in my walk with the Lord for quite some time now. By 'difficult place' I mean one of those seasons where nothing's working, nothing's happening, God's not answering, life's come to a standstill, so that the only song that seems to have any relevance is "Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me"!

            If you've been in the Lord for any length of time, you know exactly what I'm talking about. You dial heaven and ask to please speak with the Lord; the angel who answers says He's "not available right now" and "would you please call back at a later time". The second time you call you get a Busy Signal. On your third attempt you get a recording: "This number is no longer in service."

            Enter Hebrews 11:6. There's a little 'four-letter word' there that's discomfiting when you're in the difficult place. It's that little word 'must'. Anyone who comes to God . . . MUST believe (1) that God exists to begin with, and (2) that He's a Rewarder of those who diligently seek . . . HIM (ie, He's not a Rewarder of those who merely seek His 'rewards' while disregarding seeking Him).

            "MUST Believe." "MUST." Hmm. This is a word both to Christians (ie, supposedly believers) and to non-Christians (ie, supposedly non-believers) alike. The Holy Spirit does not say here:

            "It would be so neat if when you come to God you might consider believing Him!"

            "If you'd just believe God – He would be so relieved!"

            "How noble and magnanimous of you to choose to believe God!"

            "I'd be so honored and pleased if you'd believe Me!"

            "Please . . . please . . . I entreat you: Please believe Me. Please!"

            Nope. Nyet. Nicht. Nein. Nada. Negatory. No. The above-mentioned four-letter word is simply, MUST – whether you're a believer or non-believer the demand is ever the same – MUST. No discussion, no excuses, no exceptions, no exemptions, no substitutions. MUST Believe Him/in Him. MUST.

            When you're in the difficult place, the challenge is to . . . Believe. (1) That God IS there ("He exists"), so that you believe that He hasn't forgotten you. AND to Believe: (2) That He is a Rewarder if you 'hang tough' with your faith and keep pressing in to Him.

            Believing in Him isn't Optional. You MUST believe in Him. 

You MUST cast off Disbelief. It is DISPLEASING to Him for you to entertain Doubting about Him. No matter what your Emotions say, no matter how 'good' it feels and how inwardly 'warm and fuzzy' it may be to be cast down and depressed, you MUST reject and resist that tendency – and with jaw-tightened, teeth-clenched, fist-closed Fierce Resolve, you MUST Declare your Belief in Him and His ability to reward. 

And you MUST do it over-and-over, resolutely standing in your Faith. There's no other way to PLEASE GOD.

            You Must Believe in Him. You simply . . . MUST.

Robbie Phillips 
Columbia, SC

For our Hispanic Friends!!

Present Word Ministries (Ministerios de La Palabra Presente)
"El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias"
8 de julio y 9 de julio 2013
"Tiene que creer"

Y sin fe es imposible agradar a Dios. Porque es necesario que el que se acerca a Dios a crea
que El existe, y que recompensa a los que Lo buscan
-- Hebreos 11:6
            Me parece que yo he estado en un "lugar difícil" en mi caminar con el Señor por un buen rato.  Con la frase "lugar difícil" quiero decir que es uno de estas temporadas cuando nada funciona y nada está sucediendo; Dios no está contestando; la vida ha llegado un tope para que la única canción que tenga correspondencia con mi situación sea "Pesadumbre, desesperación, y agonía para mí".
            Si usted ha estado con el Señor por un espacio del tiempo, usted sabe de lo que estoy hablando.  Usted marca el número telefónico del cielo y pide, por favor, hablar con el Señor; el ángel que contesta y dice, "Él no está disponible ahora" y " por favor llame más tarde".  La segunda vez usted llama, usted llega el tono de ocupado.  En el tercero intento, usted llega una grabación: "Este numero está afuera del servicio".
            Entra Hebreos 11:6.  Hay "una palabra de cuatro letras [en inglés, 'must' o tener que]" que está presente y está incomodándole cuando usted está en un lugar difícil.  Es la pequeña frase "tiene que".  Cada quien que se acerca a Dios. . . . TIENE que creer (1) que Dios existe en el primer lugar, y (2) que Él es un Recompensador [él que recompensa] de aquellos que le buscan. . . . . a Él (i.e., Él no es un Recompensador de aquellos que meramente buscan a sus 'galardones' mientras le pasan por alto a Él mismo).
            "TIENE que creer".  "TIENE que. . . "  Hmm.  Esta es una palabra para cristianos (supuestamente, los creyentes) y para los no-cristianos (i.e., supuestamente, no-creyentes) mutuamente.  El Espíritu Santo no dice aquí:
            "Seria bonito que cuando usted se acerca a Dios, tal vez, podría considerar creer en Él".
            "Si usted creería en Dios -- Él sería tanto tranquilizado".
            "¡Cuán noble y magnánimo de usted escoger a creer en Dios!"
            "Sería yo tanto honrado si usted creería en Mí".
           ¡Por favor, por favor, Te ruego: Por favor, créeme.  Por favor!
            De ninguna manera. Nyet. Nicht. Nein. Nada. Negativo. No.  La frase de arriba de 'tiene que' sencillamente es TIENE que -- si usted es creyente o no-creyente la exigencia es igual -- TIENE que.  No discusión, no excusas, no excepciones, no exenciones, no sustituciones.  TIENE que creer en Él.  TIENE que.
            Cuando usted llega a ese lugar difícil, el reto es. . . . creer.  (1) que Dios está presente ("Él existe"), para que crea que Él no se haya olvidado de usted.  Y creer: (2) que Él sea un 'Recompensador' si usted 'aguanta firme' con su fe y continúa acercándosele a Él.
            El creer en Él no es una opción.  TIENE que creer en Él.  TIENE que echar afuera la incredulidad.  No es agradable a Él para usted seguir dudando.  No importa lo que sus emociones digan.  No importa cuan bueno se sienta y cuan bueno sea de ser desconsolado y deprimido, TIENE que rechazar y resistir esta tendencia -- y con mandíbula apretada, con los dientes apretados, con el puño cerrado con determinación feroz, TIENE que declarar su creencia en Él y en Su habilidad de recompensar.  Y TIENE que hacerlo una vez y otra vez, resolutamente, siendo firme en su fe.  No hay otra manera para agradar a Dios.
            Tiene que creer en Él.  Usted sencillamente, TIENE que creer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Spanish Jews Immigrate to Israel

Spanish Jews Immigrate to Israel

          Hispanic family in Beersheba, Israel
Thousands of Sephardites, descendants of Jews in Spain and Portugal, fled in 1492, after a royal decree ordered them to convert to Christianity or face imprisonment, torture and execution. Today, many are returning -- not to Spain but to southern Israeli city of Beersheba, as the Bible foretells.
Fireworks lit the sky over the southern city of Beersheba as Israel celebrated its independence. Thousands of new immigrants joined the festivities, among them the Javier Montenegro family, which arrived from Argentina in 2003.
"The first thing we saw was a great number of Hispanics," Javier Montenegro of the Negev Bible Center recalled. "We found some 15,000 Hispanics, coming from the nations. The majority were Argentinean because of the crisis in Argentina."
For Bible scholars, the arrival of Hispanics in the Negev is the fulfillment of a phenomenon predicted by the prophet Obadiah.
"Obadiah 20, the prophecy that the Jews of Sephardim, of Spain, returning to the city of the Negev -- and Beersheba is the capital of the Negev -- of the desert...our forefathers passed through Spain, to Latin America, and we're returning in the purpose of God," Montenegro said.
Yet the purpose of God for the Montenegro family was not that clear.
"We were led to a deep search for God," he said. "Many times I went to the desert to pray, to seek the Lord."
Montenegro is a Christian with a Jewish mother. He believed God wanted him to start a church in Beersheba, but found its spiritual climate "too cold."  "People didn't want to hear about the Lord, about Jesus, Yeshua (Hebrew). So we felt like the only ones in the city who thought differently," he said.
After inviting people for a year, they established a small congregation. But as people came, another challenge reared its head: persecution.
"The religious Orthodox, they think that they are like the spiritual police of the country," Montenegro said.
The threat is real. In December 2005, a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews attacked a Messianic congregation there. And there were other incidents as well.
"In our neighborhood, the Orthodox rang the doorbells of all our neighbors and told them we were unwelcome people, that we were missionaries and we could change the way people think -- that we were dangerous to the children," Montenegro said.
But in spite of the opposition, the Hispanic congregation began to grow. Today, the Negev Bible Center is a community of some 80 people.
Many of those who gather here thought of returning to their homeland. Life is expensive in Israel and sometimes the work available to Hispanics is cleaning offices and buildings, which pays very little. "So husband and wife both have to work many hours just to survive, and it's not enough. So they can't have a car, there are a lot of limitations. So we help with food, we try to help our brothers but there's not enough and there's so much need," he said.
Life in Beersheba is not only difficult financially. At times the threat of missiles launched by Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip can make it dangerous.
"We're 25 miles from Gaza. We've started to receive missiles in the city," Montenegro said, adding that "every war that we've had has helped the Hispanics to turn to God."
The congregation has plans to buy its own bunker that could hold up to 500 people. When the Code Red air raid siren goes off, residents have a few minutes to find shelter. "So we need a place of refuge because the time of war is when we most want to be together as a family of the Lord, praying, worshiping the Lord," he said.
But when Montenegro thinks of the rest of Beersheba's population, he's moved by their spiritual need.
"A lot of people go to the synagogue services just out of tradition. But there are a lot of secular people who turn a deaf ear. There are a lot of atheists -- a lot of masons," he said. "In the newspapers you can see horoscopes, and palm readers, (and even) witches."
Although this congregation is small, it offers an answer to the confusion and spiritual apathy of Beersheba, calling its people to return to the God of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who centuries ago found life-giving water here in the desert.
"We love this land. We've sold our house in Argentina. We've bought a house in Israel. And we want to give our lives; we want to serve the Lord all the days the Lord gives us here," Montenegro said.