From July 1st to July 8th, I traveled to Mukacheve in the Trans-Carpathian Mountain region and participated in a “teacher’s camp” put on by Hope to People Ministries of Rivne, Ukraine. Every American knows the Carpathian region, which stretches from Poland to Romania, from the images of Gothic castles that are the backdrop of numerous legends such as Count Dracula. This westernmost area of Ukraine was historically part of Poland and Hungary until it was most recently absorbed into the Soviet Union in the 1940s.
Everyone also knows that prayer and Bible reading has been restricted or banned in American public schools since the early 1960s. I found it ironic that as an American public high school teacher, I was asked to speak to a group of over 90 Ukrainian teachers many of whom teach “Christian Ethics” classes in the public schools of Ukraine. This program was implemented two years ago after the so-called “Orange Revolution.” The new presidential administration of Ukraine now contains a strong evangelical Christian presence. One of its first acts was to take some steps to counteract the negative effects of western materialism among the nation’s young people. The national government decided that Christian ethics classes would be offered in the public schools.
Some school districts in Ukraine are taking steps to see that students are taught biblically based ethics. The program is an elective course and is strictly voluntary. I was told that there is such a demand for these courses that some teachers with no church background are asked to teach the courses.
Not surprisingly, the first studies on the effects of this program have shown a desirable effect in the both the behavior and the academic achievement of the students who have taken these classes. Contrast this with the sharp decline in academic achievement and a rising incidence of numerous social maladies among American young people since the 1960s. In one off our lesson discussions, I had the chance to share on some of the studies that have been done since 1962 when prayer was eliminated from public school that have shown the sharp increase in divorce, single parent families, births to unmarried women, abortion, child abuse, drug abuse, teenage sexual activity, juvenile violent crime, and so on. This is of course coupled with the sharp decline of academic achievement shown in standardized test scores.
I don’t believe that simply the removal of the Bible and prayer from schools was the direct cause of all this, but that these trends were part of a social revolution in America that started at about this time. I said that I see it as a great irony that I was able to talk to teachers in a formerly atheistic country that recognized that moral deterioration was due to the lack of instruction in Christian ethics.
Of the teachers at the camp, about 30 were from evangelical churches. The rest were either Eastern Orthodox or else had no church affiliation at all. However, many of the attendees were superintendents, principals, department heads and leaders in education. Pastor Taras Prystupa began these training camps for teachers and librarians ten years ago. In the beginning most of the attendees were unconverted, yet a relationship has been developed and most of the teachers return each year, for a week of instruction, fun excursions in the afternoons and nightly biblical preaching and teaching.
Some teachers have professed faith in Jesus Christ as result of hearing the word of God preached at these camps. Others have come each year and have developed a relationship with the Christian teachers and have become more open to the Gospel message as a result of this ministry. The focus of the camp is evangelistic in nature.
The following week I traveled to Rivne, which is located in northwestern Ukraine. I spent a few days getting acquainted with the many ministries of Hope to People. In addition to the outreach to teachers, there is also their work with an orphanage, a youth sports ministry, numerous summer camps for youth, a new magazine for Christian teachers, a seminary and Bible school, and some building projects – a future youth camp, a church building and the Hope to People Center – a Soviet era building that is being slowly renovated to house the outreach ministries.
I was told that the main need is for workers and people who will come from abroad on short-term missions trips. Having American Christians stay and work even for short periods of time is a great encouragement to these Christians in a nation where less than one percent of the population is evangelical.
If you have an interest in taking a trip to Ukraine in 2008 to take part in a Christian teachers camp – or if you are interested in working with youth or just seeing what is happening in this vital mission field – you can contact me and I will put you in contact with Hope to People.
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
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High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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