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The Word Spreads

The Word Spreads

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The Word Spreads

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  1. The Word Spreads Viewing Acts Chapter 8 Prepared by: Soon Siak. February 2010

  2. And The Heat is On Two video previews on the persecution of the church today (by Open Doors). What is Persecution? (3.09 minutes) Today persecuted brethrens in North Korea (6.17 minutes)

  3. Hard Times THEN - Many Christians were thrown into the arena where they were mauled, eaten and harassed by wild animals. Some were dragged by chariots or crucified while still alive. NOW – All over the world… an example: Many Christians in Eritrea have been locked in shipping containers like this one by the government in an attempt to force them to renounce their Christian faith. (Photo: Compass)

  4. Christian Persecution in Eritrea Where on earth is Eritrea? Eritrea is a small, but strategically important country in East Africa. Bordered by Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, Eritrea is located along the Red Sea - one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Eritrea has been successively occupied over the last 500 years by the Ottomans, Egyptians, Italians and the British. In 1952, It was given to Ethiopia by the United Nations, however after a prolonged and violent civil war Eritrea gained independence in 1999. The leader of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, Isaias Afwerki, was declared president in May 1993, with the support of the international community. The population of Eritrea is divided almost equally between Muslims and Christians and interfaith relations are generally good. Why is Eritrea a country of concern? Although the constitution of Eritrea proclaims that "every person shall have the freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice," in recent times, an increasingly hostile Eritrean government has commenced actively targeting and persecuting Christians for their faith. The President, Isaias Afwerki is known to adhere to Marxist ideologies. He is not only the chief of state, but the head of government, State Council and the National Assembly. Many observers see the President as becoming a dictator. He has become increasingly opposed to civil society groups such as students, journalists, Muslims and especially Christians. On 21 May 2002, President Afwerki ordered all churches to be closed, pending approval for government "registration". Members of these churches were forbidden for meeting, even in private homes. The order has resulted in the closure of over 26 church groups so far, including the Assembly of God, Full Gospel and the Rhema Charismatic Church - affecting up to 20,000 Christians. However, the ban excluded the Orthodox, Lutheran and Catholic denominations, because of their "historical existence" in Eritrea. The Seventh Day Adventist Church was granted registration in April 2005.

  5. Christian Persecution in Eritrea The President, in justifying his decision, has claimed that independent churches threaten the unity of Eritrea and distort religion. Some observers, such as expelled BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher propose the government is "afraid that people who consider their highest allegiance to be to God, at some point may not be patriotic and follow the state's instructions." What is the current situation in Eritrea? Currently, 17 evangelical pastors and more than 900 Christians remain incarcerated in prisons, police stations, military camps and shipping containers. They have not been charged with any offences, nor have there been any trials held. While the Eritrean government denies there is any religious repression, there are regular reports of the arrests of people attending home Bible studies, meeting for prayers, attending Christian wedding ceremonies, or even participating in family devotionals. 29-year old Helen Berhane, an Eritrean singer, has been detained by the military since 13 May 2004, after releasing a CD of Christian music. Helen is reportedly being held in a shipping container at the Mai Serwa military camp, until she agrees to sign a paper recanting her faith and promising not to continue to participate in Christian activities. Released due to poor health and granted political asylum in Denmark in 2006. After international exposure and a day of prayer and fasting by Christians around the world, 91 Christian prisoners were released from the Sawa Military camp on 6 August 2005. Pray that this might be a sign of improvement for the Christian faithful in Eritrea.

  6. What’s happening? Persecutions still exist all over the world, especially in countries where converting to Christians is against the law. This include countries like North Korea, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan… and even Malaysia! Do you think Church growth can be stopped by squashing the church?

  7. Persecution of the Christians Can you think of something bad that’s happened to you that turned into something good? After Jesus returned to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, the early church grew real fast. But its success and growth had been very threatening to the established religious leaders. They had just stoned Stephen. Now what was their plan (v1-3)? To organise a full-scale persecution of the church. Let’s view the video to see what happen next…

  8. The Gospel Spreads to Samaria Why didn’t the plan succeed (v4)? The first official persecution of the church drove the Christians out of Jerusalem, and they preached the gospel everywhere they went. (Bravo! God turns evil into good. (Rom. 8:28)) When you face difficult times, are you more likely to give up or try harder? Give an example or two. What can we learnt from Philip (v5-7)? He was a strong spiritual leader. He used the power of God to cast out evil spirits, heal people and teach.)

  9. The Gospel Spreads to Samaria The power of God that Philip displayed caught the attention of Simon the Sorcerer. What did Simon learn from Philip (v9-13)? The power of God had purpose-to heal, to bring comfort, and so forth. Simon had used sorcery as a means to set himself up as someone important. He had people thinking he was divine. But when given a choice, the people quickly believed in Philip’s God rather than Simon. And though it says that “Simon himself believed,” there will soon be a question as to the extent of his belief.

  10. Samaria When the Israelites divided into 2 kingdoms after the death of King Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel was established in the northern section of the Promised Land, in accordance with the lands allotted to the 10 tribes in that area. Shechem was the original capital, until Jeroboam moved it to Tirzah. Later, in approximately 880 B.C., Omri, the sixth king of Israel, established the capital at Samaria, a new town built on a hilltop about 7 miles (11 kilometers) northwest of Shechem. "Samaria" came to be used interchangeably for both the city, and the region.

  11. Samaria After the northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians, the region then known as Samaria was reduced in size. By the time of Jesus Christ, it was bounded by Galilee to the north, The Mediterranean Sea to the west, Judea to the south (in which Jerusalem was located), and the Jordan River to the east. Today, it is in the so-called "West Bank" area.

  12. Samaria

  13. Mission of Peter and John to Samaria Philip’s work in Samaria had broken new ground. (The Jews and Samaritans had long been enemies of each other.) When news of the Samaritans’ acceptance of the Gospel reached the church in Jerusalem, they sent Peter and John to follow up. What did Simon the sorcerer learn from Peter and John (v14-25)? God’s power is not for sale! Anyone who tries to profit selfishly from what God provides can only expect trouble. Hence the word “Simony”. • ** noun1.the making of profit out of sacred things. 2.the sin of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, etc. Simon believed and baptised (v13) but Peter’s scathing rebuke (v21) leaves us uncertain about where Simon really stood with God. Furthermore, the early writings of church history continue to depict Simon as a father of heresies.

  14. Conversion of the Eunuch of Ethiopia What kind of guy was Philip (v26-40)? Courageous; open to God’s leading; familiar with Scripture; willing to share his faith, etc.) If you could ask Philip one question, what would it be?  How did the Spirit spoke to him, his mysterious disappearance in v39 (nineteen miles apart!). Note the account of his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch.

  15. Conversion of the Eunuch of Ethiopia

  16. Conversion of the Eunuch of Ethiopia What do you suppose the Ethiopian eunuch told people about his experience in the desert? Certainly he would have told people about the new life he found in Christ. He might also have mentioned Philip’s mysterious disappearance. Note: Philip reappeared about nineteen miles away. He then found his way to Caesarea, where he was twenty years later (21:8).

  17. SPM95 Question How did the life and death of Stephen, one of the deacons help in growth of the church? [about 6 marks] This is a continuation from Chapter 6 exercise on SPM95 question. See A31Q2 – a good sample answer.

  18. Hot in the Site! Latest SPM updates. Vital files – chart.doc; actsques.doc; lkquestn.doc

  19. Review on exercises • Use marks assigned as a guide for your answer. Dun juz say B’cos quarrel for a 2 marks question. (2004A) • Read question carefully. 10 pages answer for a misread question still zero. • Note A32-A33, section 5 (under Nuggets…) means a reference. • Please review the marking scheme in from the downloads in the site. Gives you a pretty good idea.

  20. No lesson next week!

  21. AkanDatang!!! The 11th National Postal BK Quiz 2010. Nature of Quiz : Written paper of 45 minutes with 2 parts :         I ) 20 fill-in-the-blanks quotations         2) 30 objective questions Text to be quizzed : The book of Luke, chapters 15 - 24 The book of Genesis, chapters 12 – 15 Participants will be awarded the MCSC (Malayan Christian Schools’ Council) certificate for their participation and those who score 40% and above will be acknowledged in their certificates. When? April, 2010