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Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
     Dear Professor Roy
     I too am sure that it will be a "nice hot debate" though I don't see 
     what it has to do with IPI, considering that the chain letter you 
     passed on is probably circulating more widely outside India (that is, 
     among non-Indians) than it is in India - and, more especially, 
     considering that there are no POLICIES we could follow which would 
     have any impact on whether or not some nice or not so nice people 
     decided to pray or not pray (or meditate or not meditate) about 
     something or nothing....
     ...unless of course you were proposing that we consider the praying or 
     meditational habits of every denomination and religion and 
     thought-system (for example, Marxism) inside and outside India!
     I too am afflicted with such letters, for example the following which 
     I received today.  
     No, these are not matters for IPI debate...these are matters for 
     action: click on the reply button and ask them to take you off their 
     list (as I have done).
     prabhu guptara
     Worldwide church growing faster than ever 
     The church is expanding faster than ever in history, but it is not 
     without a "horrible" cost, Paul Marshall, an expert on the 
     persecuted church said at a seminar in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 2, 
     "We are living in the greatest age of the expansion of the church 
     ever. The  church in China grew from 1 million in 1980 to an estimated
     million in 1999. There is nothing in the Book of Acts that shows 
     church growth on this scale. There's nothing I know of in the history
of the church in any 
    country at any time which has church growth at this scale." The 
     global growth of Christianity, he said, is not coming in Western 
     Europe or the United States, but in places outside the West. "Africa 
     will soon be the continent, if not already, with the greatest number 
     of Christians. Christians in the world are more likely to be Chinese 
     or Nigerian or Sudanese than to be Westerners. About 80 percent of 
     those in the church live outside the West. If the church diminishes 
     in the West, in terms of the kingdom of God, that would be a sad, 
     but a small thing."
     The cost of growth has been persecution of the church, Marshall 
     said, which
     is a horrible, depressing thing that God nevertheless has used for 
     good. "These are evil, unjust things that should be fought. But what 
     is the other
     side? What is the good news of which this is the dark side? The good 
     news is the spread of the gospel, the growth of the church, the 
     power of the gospel in people's lives." Marshall reported to the 150 
     people in attendance several incidents that have occurred since the 
     middle of September:
     The senior Roman Catholic bishop in China, who has spent 15 years 
     in prison and has been repeatedly tortured, has disappeared, last 
     seen with Chinese government security officials.
      A prominent national leader in the unregistered Protestant house 
     church movement in China was executed Oct. 14 by firing squad, the 
     second leader of this movement to be executed in the past two 
      Chechnyan militants have kidnapped a young Baptist deacon and are 
     demanding that his church sell its building and use the money to pay 
     the ransom. The deacons' predecessors have been kidnapped and 
      In India, a 26-year-old Catholic nun was raped and mocked for her 
      The Myanmar military government attacked 22 villages of a tribe 
     who are mostly Christians. Witnesses said the military beat and 
     stabbed to death many people.
      A Coptic Orthodox priest in Egypt was shot. A Coptic bishop faces 
     from eight years in prison to the death penalty on charges resulting 
     from his reporting that 1,200 members of his diocese had been 
     tortured in August and
     In Vietnam, Sept. 17, security police raided a house church, 
     arresting >>and interrogating an evangelist and two others.
      In a largely Christian Sudanese province, 700 people die from 
     each day. An estimated 50,000 mostly Christian children have been 
     sold into
     slavery for "the going rate" of $50. 
     "We are talking about things that are recent -- not 2,000 years ago, 
     not 200 years ago, not even 20 years ago or last year," Marshall 
     said, "In these particular cases, not even two months ago. This is 
     the situation that
     we live in now. It's Nov. 2, 1999." An estimated 200 million 
     Christians are
     exposed to persecution in about 60 or 70 countries. And the 
     persecution is worsening in countries like China, Vietnam and North 
     Korea, the latter which is "perhaps the worst situation for 
     Christians in the world." Marshall also listed Islamic countries 
     where Muslims who become Christians face the death penalty, 
     including Sudan, Mauritania, Iran and Iraq. In other countries the 
     threat comes from family members who have been shamed by the 
     conversion. "Often you are much more in danger from an uncle than 
     you are from somebody else in many Islamic countries." It is illegal 
     to be a Christian in Saudi Arabia, and in Pakistan, blasphemy laws 
     have been used
     against Christians. In some countries like India, Myanmar, Sri 
     Lanka, Nepal
     and Butan, "increasingly aggressive Hinduism and Buddhism" persecute 
     Christians, adding that in some countries like Ethiopia and Mexico, 
     "Christians" persecute other Christians.
     The reasons for persecution are political and theological, Marshall 
     said. "In the modern age, when the church grows, democracy grows. 
     When the church
     grows, human rights grow. This is simply an empirical fact," he 
     said, citing a 1997 report by Freedom House. In that report, 79 of 
     86 democratic countries were "culturally Christian." The remaining 
     seven included Israel,
     South Korea and Taiwan. "The Christian faith affects the way we live 
     and it
     affects the way societies go, and that worries them." He quoted two 
     newspapers and Chinese police documents that write about the 
     importance of squashing the churches because of what happened in the 
     Soviet Union. "If China does not want these things repeated in its 
     own land, we must strangle
     the baby while it is still in the manger," a Beijing newspaper said. 
     "Tyrants cannot have another king of any kind whatsoever," Marshall 
     said. "Another king means another loyalty. You have a loyalty to 
     something more than them. That's why they kill you. That's why the 
     church is repressed. The fear is real, because [Christianity] will 
     open up a society." In a Far East Economic Review cover story on 
     China titled, "God is Back," a Beijing government official is quoted 
     as saying, "If God had the face of a 70-year-old man, we would not 
     care if he were back. But he has the face of millions of 
     20-year-olds and, therefore, we are worried."
     Marshall listed five ways that churches in the West can be more 
     involved in
     helping the persecuted church:
      Be informed and pray constantly. Marshall said the Internet can 
     keep people informed of the world situation. He also noted, "No 
     church should ever meet for congregational worship without praying 
     for the persecuted church."
     Make contacts within the persecuted church. "We can go there. ... 
     We can
     know them and they will change our lives," he said. -- Publicize 
     the plight of the persecuted church. -- Pressure your government to 
     take action.
      Include the entire church, not just the church in the West, in 
     our definition of the body of Christ.
     "When we use the term church, what's the image that comes to our 
     mind?" Marshall asked. "The first response should be, 'I am a member 
     of these people we've talked about in Vietnam, or Ethiopia, or 
     Nigeria or in Romania.' God has made us one with one another, as one 
     body; we share the same joys and the same sufferings."
     Source: Baptist Press

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