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Following in the footsteps of South Korea, the most-Christian country in Asia opens its own fundraising office.
Three years ago, a group of nearly 48 former Compassion International–sponsored children in the Philippines decided it was time for them to start investing in kids in their own country.
“Because we believe in the power of Christ and the strategies of Compassion in changing lives, we came together and decided that it is now our turn to do the same,” said Glendy Obahib, one of the core leaders of the Compassion Alumni Sponsorship Movement (CASM). “We were blessed with the gift of sponsorship and now we want to become a blessing to others through the same sponsorship.”
A new initiative from Compassion International will make this work even easier. Filipino nationals will now be able to sponsor children within the country and fund community development programs thanks to the establishment of Compassion Philippines Inc., an in-country support office.
The sole focus of Compassion Philippines will be fundraising, unlike Compassion International, which runs the programs. Compassion Australia is helping the new organization set up a legal identity and consulting on registration, insurance, and hiring so that Compassion Philippines can operate as a separate legal entity from Compassion International in the Philippines.
Currently, according to Precious Amor Tulay of Compassion Philippines, the new organization is pursuing bank account approval and securing government permits that will allow them to raise funds and enable donors to claim tax deductions.
Compassion’s staff hopes that this transition will increase support to the Philippines. Today, most of the funding for sponsored children in the Philippines comes from the US, Australia, and South Korea.
“By equipping local fundraising teams, we’re ...
After years of holdups, a task force says the work of abuse reform is too much for volunteers alone.
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention’s abuse reform task force announced plans Monday to launch a new, independent nonprofit to host a database of abuse pastors and to implement other reforms.
They still need the money to run it.
The new nonprofit will oversee a proposed Ministry Check website listing abusive pastors, which has stalled since a website for the abuse reforms was launched last year. Currently, no names of pastors are included on the website, sbcabuseprevention.com.
Josh Wester, a North Carolina pastor who chairs the SBC’s abuse reform implementation task force, said the new nonprofit, which he called an abuse response commission, will be independent of the SBC’s current structure.
He said the job of abuse reform was too big for a task force of volunteers to accomplish on their own. That led to the plan to launch a new organization.
“Given the current legal and financial challenges facing the SBC and the Executive Committee, the formation of a new independent organization is the only viable path that will allow progress toward abuse reform to continue unencumbered and without delay,” Wester told members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee during a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night. “To do this, we have to do this together.”
Wester said the Ministry Check website will include the names of Southern Baptists convicted of abuse and those who have had civil judgments against them. The task force has run into legal and financial delays in getting those names published, Wester said in his report.
The commission will also create an expanded “Ministry Toolkit” designed to help churches prevent abuse and ...
Churches should welcome questions. That doesn’t require embracing perpetual doubt.
What makes Christianity hard?
There are many possible answers to this question. How you answer it reveals a great deal not only about yourself—your temperament, your station in life, your mind and heart—but also about the context in which you live. Christians in different times and places would answer quite differently.
Suppose, for example, you live in Jerusalem just a few decades after the crucifixion of Jesus. What makes Christianity hard is not belief in the divine or the great distance separating you from “Bible times.” You’re in Bible times, and everyone believes in the divine. No, what makes it hard is the suffocating heat of legal persecution and social rejection. Confessing Christ’s name likely makes your life worse in tangible ways: Your family might disown you; your master might abuse you; your friends might ridicule you. The authorities might haul you in for questioning if you strike them as a troublemaker.
Or suppose you’re a nun in a medieval convent. You’ll live your whole life here, never marrying or bearing children or having a home of your own. You are pledged to God until death. You’re what people will later call a “mystic,” though that’s a rather dry term for having visions you often experience as suffering: ecstatic glimpses of the consuming fire that is the living Lord. What makes Christianity hard? You certainly don’t wonder about the existence of God—you’ve seen God with your own eyes. Nor are fame and wealth a source of temptation; your life is hidden away from the world. But your life is not easy. Faith remains hard.
Or imagine you’re someone else, somewhere else: a priest at a rural parish in early modern ...
A children’s ministry veteran explains where kids’ Bibles tend to go wrong—and highlights a few that get it right.
The best children’s Bibles are remarkable works of faith and art. They offer young readers and their families an engaging and accessible introduction to biblical stories and the loving, holy character of God.
But there are plenty of children’s Bibles on the market, and for every wonderful option, another fails to meet this goal. Too many choose moralism over the gospel, standalone heroes’ tales over richly connected narratives, and inaccuracy over truth and care for the original text. The story of God’s love and mercy through the millennia becomes little more than a Christianese-filled Aesop’s Fables.
I’ve long worked in children’s ministry, including leading the children’s ministry at my own church, so I’ve read through and taught from many children’s Bibles over the years. There are Bibles that are a pleasure to read aloud to preschoolers, and there are some that are so simplified (or so convoluted) that story time becomes the worst part of the lesson. For this article, I chose to reread eight of these Bibles, selecting both time-honored bestsellers and promising newcomers:
When re-examining these Bibles, I focused on crucial stories of Creation, Jesus’ birth, and his death and resurrection. I also looked at how each book told the stories of biblical heroes like David and Jonah, and noted which stories the authors chose to include (or exclude). Finally, it was important to me to see how the stories were told, looking at the ...
Introducing 11 of the dozens of diaspora ministries working to unite one of the world’s fastest-growing gospel movements.
Last week in Tehran, thousands rallied to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that established Iran’s modern theocracy. Last October in London, 130 Iranian Christians gathered to worship and pray, and celebrated a quiet decision to establish an evangelical alliance.
Time will tell which gathering was more consequential.
In 1979, one month after the fall of the shah, 98 percent of Iranian citizens voted to approve a constitution installing an Islamic government. Four decades of religious authoritarianism later, an online poll indicated that only 16 percent of the population would vote for it again.
An earlier survey, furthermore, found that only one-third of Iran’s population call themselves Shiite Muslims. More than half identified as either atheist, agnostic, no religion, vaguely spiritual, or Iran’s ancient Zoroastrian faith.
Those responding “Christian” totaled almost a million.
Thousands more Christians have fled persecution, taking refuge among the extensive Iranian diaspora in the West. Some have established ministries to evangelize among them, while others broadcast satellite TV programs, engage in remote discipleship efforts, or preside over a network of underground house churches.
Many multitask, while few collaborate—until now.
At the London gathering, members from over 40 diaspora churches and ministries voted almost unanimously to partner together in an evangelical alliance. Further votes were taken to choose a seven-member steering committee to represent the whole, tasked to take a year to study and recommend best practices, as an additional 60 leaders observed proceedings online.
Momentum had been building for years. Named the Iranian Leaders Forum (ILF), previous ...
Recent histories, documentaries, and devotionals prompt fans to look back—and perhaps learn some lessons—from the genre’s heyday.
The kids and teens of the 1990s are now in their 30s and 40s, and the nostalgia of that era’s Christian music has us revisiting favorite albums and artists. This throwback fandom has revived decades-old praise songs like “Here I Am to Worship” and fueled movies that celebrate Christian Contemporary Music (CCM), like the 2021 Netflix summer camp musical A Week Away and the documentary love letter The Jesus Music.
With our nostalgia comes new interest in the history of the modern Christian music industry, its main characters, and the political and social conditions that produced what we now call CCM—not a musical genre but a niche industry that produced Christian music modeled on mainstream pop and rock, built on a shared faith rather than on a particular musical style.
An array of recent books and films have set out to tell the story of the Christian music industry. There’s Jesus Revolution, a feature film directed by Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle; Mixtape Theology: 90s Christian Edition, a devotional and CCM retrospective by William “Ashley” Mofield and Rachel Cash; and historian Leah Payne’s new book, God Gave Rock & Roll to You. Later this year, documentarian Jason Ikeler will release his film, Safe for the Whole Family: How to Make a Christian Superstar.
Each attempt to capture the CCM story—whether historical, devotional, or fictionalized—assigns boundaries and attributes significance to particular figures, events, and albums. The growing body of work on the subject reflects a negotiation around which accounts are part of the “real” story of CCM, and who gets to tell it.
And as evangelicals debate the merits of self-criticism, the historiography of ...
How do you decide what should be normal in a secularized, fragmented society?
The last two decades have seen a rising attention to normalcy in American public life. Google Trends shows a steady upward slope—a quadrupling, in fact—in online interest in “normal” between 2004 and 2024.
But anecdotally, I’d say this acceleration has felt more intense since around 2015. Not coincidentally, that was the year former president Donald Trump first came to dominate national politics, and it’s also the year the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, which shifted public discourse on sexuality and gender away from gay marriage and toward new frontiers, especially on gender identity.
Normalcy has long had some moral valence. Its etymology has to do with the rightness of angles in carpentry, and from there, it’s not a long verbal journey to other kinds of rightness: conformity with rules, not just the ruler, and especially with ethical rules.
Lately it seems like that moral shade is thickening. In a secularized, fragmented society, we are running perilously short on widely accepted norms. A panic is rising. No one wants anomie, a norm less culture, but how do you set effective norms if there’s no consensus on what’s normal? On what basis do you mourn or herald the death of old norms or the rise of new ones? By what rule can we judge and instruct if we’re losing agreed-upon rules?
A fascinating case study of this quandary popped up in a recent Atlantic essay from scholar Tyler Austin Harper. Titled “Polyamory, the Ruling Class’s Latest Fad,” its first three-quarters ...
Rob Reiner’s documentary makes a strong case against political extremism in the name of Christ—for those who already agree.
Heave an egg out a Pullman window,” social critic H. L. Mencken famously said in 1925, “and you will hit a fundamentalist anywhere in the United States.” I often think about Mencken’s line when I read the coverage of evangelical Christianity at left-leaning websites such as Salon, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and MSNBC—drop an egg out of a Boeing 737 at 30,000 feet above red America, and you will hit a “Christian nationalist.”
Discussion of Christian nationalism has exploded in the last three years. The phenomenon has been blamed for the Trump presidency, the January 6th insurrection, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the possibility of another win for former president Donald Trump on Election Day. The latest offering in this vein is God & Country, a documentary film that arrives in theaters this month.
Directed by Dan Partland and produced by Rob Reiner, God & Country astutely includes interviews with high-profile Christian intellectuals, activists, and authors including Jemar Tisby, David French, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Phil Vischer, Skye Jethani, Doug Pagitt, Rob Schenck, and CT editor-in-chief Russell Moore. Yes, the selection communicates, even these people think Christian nationalism is dangerous.
In one sense, God & Country is a brilliant piece of documentary filmmaking. It succeeds in warning against political extremism in the name of Christ and makes a significant and necessary contribution to our understanding of American religion and politics in the Trump era.
Many scenes are hard to forget: There are Seven Mountain dominionists in a packed arena reciting the “Watchman’s Decree,” a prayer to “take back and permanently control positions of ...
After an accident on a radio tower, Federico Magbanua went on to inspire a generation of pastors in the Philippines.
When the late Federico “Fred” Mission Magbanua Jr. preached a radio sermon on offering one’s body as a living sacrifice, he probably didn’t imagine he’d one day hear these words again as a 10,000-watt radio frequency current surged through him in a near-death accident.
It happened one night in early 1961, while Magbanua was working at the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) gospel radio ministry. He was mulling over a job offer in the United States with a salary far greater than what he currently made as an FEBC engineer and as a pastor of a small Baptist church.
Suddenly, the warning lights on the 308-foot radio tower went out. Magbanua loaded some new bulbs into a bag and began climbing the structure. From his home nearby, his daughters and his wife, Aliw, watched him scale the tower.
What Magbanua didn’t realize was that the grounding system—which diverts energy to the ground to prevent surges—wasn’t working. A radio frequency current “hit his head using his body as a lightning rod,” his friend Harold Sala later told God Reports. “Literally, he was being executed by the tremendous surge of electrical power.”
The program that was airing at that moment was one that Magbanua himself had hosted on Romans 12:1–2. “Through the sparking, he heard his own voice in his head saying, ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,’” recounted former FEBC head Dan Andrew Cura.
Miraculously, Magbanua was released by the current and fell to a step that was several feet from the top of the tower instead of falling 300 feet to the ground. He managed to climb down the ladder ...
When the CCM business model faltered, it gave way to what sells even better: politics and fearmongering.
A friend and I were talking once about the first concerts we ever attended. His was Van Halen; mine was Amy Grant.
“Okay, second concert?” he asked.
Him: Mötley Crüe. Me: Petra.
After a minute or two of silence, he said, “You realize we would have hated each other in middle school, don’t you?”
One of us was part of a sheltered subculture quickly passing away. The other listened to music that was a gateway drug to what some say led to riots and rebellion. Turns out, my musical taste, not his, was the dangerous one.
In her new book, God Gave Rock and Roll to You: A History of Contemporary Christian Music, scholar Leah Payne argues that anyone wishing to understand some of the most epochal shifts in American culture and politics over the past 30 years ought to listen to the radio—specifically to the contemporary Christian music (CCM) genre of a generation of white evangelicals.
Payne writes that teenage kids like me were actually not the market for the CCM industry of the 1980s, 1990s, and early aughts. Our moms were. Payne reveals industry executives even had a collective name for the suburban middle-class mother who sought out Christian alternatives to popular music for her children: “Becky.”
The second avenue was the vibrant youth group culture of the time (where I came to love CCM). Payne writes: “The quirk of CCM’s business model—that the bulk of its sales came not through mainstream retailers marketing directly to teens, but through Christian bookstores who marketed primarily to evangelical caregivers interested in passing the faith to their children—became its defining ...
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Jesus established the church to be a community of believers, a family, to encourage each other in unity and to project His love to the world. As a family, our goal is to love each other without conditions or expectations