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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Probably the last Indiana Revival Report

There have been several phases of Revive Indiana, the first two of which have been pretty well covered in this blog.

One: Elkhart County area, one week extended to 52 days, with a month off, then one week more.

Two: The Seven Stars: one, two, or three weeks of meetings in six other counties throughout the northern two-thirds of the state, extending over the next three months.

Three: The Nineteen Rays: more localized outreaches to various other communities across the state, spearheaded by locally trained and sent leaders, as well as the new locally supported Time to Revive full-time missionaries; still ongoing, more than a year later.

Remember me saying that Revive Indiana was the first Time to Revive outreach to be named after an entire state--and the first that broke out of the original target area to spread across the state? Well, all TTR outreaches that were initiated after Revive Indiana have followed the same pattern: Revive Florida (which spread to two other counties), Revive Ohio (now spreading to its third county), and now, for next year, Revive Texas. Now, TTR has gone back and renamed all their earlier outreaches, including the original Dallas event which is now gearing up for round two next year, to incorporate the name of the state and the city. Just look at this list of recent outreaches released by TTR:

reviveARIZONA :: Sedona
reviveFLORIDA :: Sarasota
reviveINDIANA :: Jasper County
reviveMICHIGAN :: Flint
reviveMINNESOTA :: Twin Cities
reviveMISSISSIPPI :: Tupelo
reviveOHIO :: Darke County
reviveTX :: Dallas-Fort Worth
reviveWASHINGTON :: Seattle

Revive Indiana continues to stand out as a turning point in the movement that is Time to Revive, serving as the model for all future outreaches. And Indianans, more than those of any previous revival, still travel to every new venue providing a jump start to the local outreaches, returning home pumped up to continue what started there.

But what are the lingering results in Indiana? There is still an increased level of cooperation among churches (although some have backtracked on their involvement), but Elkhart itself remains a murder capital, with recent triple and double homicides making the news.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Timo's Trial

Things are happening pretty fast on the Miller Kidnapping Case, so I'm starting another post here for information on Timo's trial as it comes in. Word is that Timo is in Buffalo awaiting a pretrial hearing, and we will let you know how that goes as soon as we can. The prosecution may look on this as an opportunity to add to Ken and Philip's prison time by trying to put them on the stand against Timo. This, of course, would be only for spite, as they already have plenty enough evidence against him--he was first arrested for this crime over five years ago.

Timo's detention hearing was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on October 12--then bumped to that time on the 14th. Carl Swartzentruber sent in this report: “God was very good to us, and he did answer prayers in the court hearing. The judge was very friendly and gracious. The decision was to not ask for pre-trial release for now. Jeff Conrad, Timo’s lawyer, talked to Timo about this and Timo agreed. At this point they are going to pursue a plea-agreement and negotiations are ongoing. Timo was in good spirits. He looked in good health and good condition all the way around. He was very happy to see us all there and came out with a big smile on his face. It was good to see him again as well. The judge also asked that Timo be moved to a prison closer to Lancaster County for Jeff Conrad’s sake. That was interesting and very gracious. We just felt like God was there and blessed. There was a good spirit in the whole proceeding. Now we need to pray for the ongoing negotiations so that God works everything out the way he wants it.”

A website has now been set up to collect donations for the expenses associated with Timo's legal process. Of all things, it was false charges of child pornography that got Timo whisked off a Managuan street in thrown in the dungeon. What a case of projection.

“We probably couldn't have extradited you. But that doesn't mean we couldn't get you. When we really want somebody, we work with our friends, in whatever country we happen to be. A few phone calls, a little back-and-forth, tit for tat. We get them to cancel your immigration status, and next thing you know, you're being deported.”  --American officer David Foster in Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich

Timo had his day in court, and Carl has sent in another report:

"The hearing today went very well overall with good spirit among everyone involved. Timo's day had started at 3am when he was taken from the prison to go to the courthouse, but in spite of a tired body he was in good spirits as well. The early part of the day was spent in private discussion among the attorneys and Timo. During that time, Timo had a special opportunity for some very positive personal interaction with the lead prosecutor and expressed his love and goodwill for him and his desire for the well being of his soul.  It was a rather touching moment for Timo.  

"When the status hearing began the judge was informed by the prosecution lawyers that they had reached a plea agreement. The judge was favorable to that and suggested that they could hold the plea hearing later in the afternoon rather than scheduling it for another time. They recessed while the court addressed another case on the docket and then Timo's case was recalled and they proceeded with the plea hearing.  The judge was very gracious and took time to explain everything thoroughly.  Timo pled guilty to one of the two charges against him and the other charge was dismissed.  A reduced sentence was recommended and the judge set March 23 for the sentencing date when he will finally rule on the sentence.  He has guidelines to follow in sentencing but has discretion in following them as well. That should become a fresh matter of prayer.  Timo will remain in prison while he awaits sentencing.  

"There were approximately 60 people from several surrounding states who attended the court hearing in support of Timo.  It was very encouraging for Timo to see that support and it was impressive to the court staff as well.  They had opportunity to pray together in the courthouse hallway and sing together on the courthouse steps.  There was goodwill and a good spirit all around. . ."

Timo's wife and children have been provided a home in Lancaster County, PA which is still quite a ways from the Youngstown, OH prison where he has settled down for the time being. This is his address:

Timo Miller 78268083
North East Ohio Correctional Center
2240 Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Living in the Underground Church

I'm beginning another post on the topic of the month, but this will be very general, with lessons learned drawn from a variety of situations.

I've been watching a film produced by the underground Russian Baptist Church a full generation ago, at the very height of persecution, but less than a decade before it ended. When this video was recently shown to believers in Mongolia (where the church emerged only after the fall of Communism), this was their recorded response: 
They looked at the faces in that video and saw people who had genuinely given themselves to Christ in the face of the great risk of prison camps and torture. They commented that such real conviction was entirely different from the sort of 'Christianity' seen in Mongolia, where nominal adherence to Christianity and easy believism has been spread by missionaries and now by Mongolians who are encouraged by missionaries to travel the world and sow the same seed where-ever. The Mongolians who saw the video felt highly embarrassed that the character of Christendom in Mongolia is completely different from those shown on the film who wholly dedicated themselves to Christ in spite of the tremendous danger and cost. 
We in the West have much to learn from these saints, now mostly living in our midst, who can still tell us how their faith was able to thrive despite living their entire lives under incremental state opposition. For example, their leader since 1965, Gennadi Kryuchkov, went into hiding in lieu of sure imprisonment--and, for an incredible twenty years, lived in a totalitarian country tantalizingly beyond the reach of the mighty KGB, who were so frustrated in their vain attempts to bring him to ground that one of them said it almost made a believer of him. His fugitive status outlasted the KGB itself, as he led the church that entire time from behind a curtain of invisibility until he at last emerged triumphant. In fact, in an incredibly bold move, he even emerged briefly after 19 years to address a national conference, only to disappear again while the communist regime concluded its death throes.

I'd like to quote the opening paragraph of Gennadi's obituary (posted in The Guardian), and I trust my readers will see the parallels to recent show trials in the American Northeast:
It was past midnight at the end of the second day of the trial of Russian Baptist pastors Gennadi Kryuchkov and Georgi Vins. Having been denied his request for seven supporting witnesses and a proper defence counsel, Kryuchkov exercised his right to a "final address", using the dock virtually as a pulpit. "I'm happy to stand before you as a Christian ... Those brethren who are in prisons and camps are suffering, not for having broken Soviet law, but for having been faithful to God and his church. They suffer for Christ, who called them to a new life. Among them are reformed criminals."

Developing . . .

Friday, 7 October 2016

What is Transgender? A Societal Answer

Earlier I started a series on the topic of Transgender, starting with the Linguistic definition, followed here by the Societal Definition, and culminating, I believe, in a Legal Definition (whenever the latter is finally settled).

I don't recommend any of my readers listen to this video, due to the foul language (the relevant parts at least are subtitled), but I will sum up its content in one sentence: As of October 2016 in Ontario, it only takes one hour to go from being a woman with a female photo identity card to a woman with a male photo identity card--issued by the government no less. It's much easier than changing one's name; many women spend as long just changing their clothes.  She probably needed more documentation to prove her new address than her new gender identity.

Now, think about that for just a minute. Women have been changing their last names for many centuries--far longer than Western civilization has existed on these shores--but it's not even been the span of a single lifetime since they could change their gender, and now it can be done in less than an hour, with no physical exam, no court hearing, no sworn statement, not even any witnesses present? It's even easier than getting legally married!

Now, this is not all entirely new. Homosexual behaviour was so common in first century Western Civilization that the Apostle Paul included it several times in various lists of sins. We even get our word 'lesbian' from the behaviour common to female inhabitants of ancient Lesbos Island in Greece. What is new is the legal fiction that male and female are social, rather than biological, constructs.

Allowing one's feelings to trump biological reality is at once a social, and a legal, decision. During a time in which a majority of people are reluctant to start calling a woman 'he' just because she identifies as male, it soon becomes a legal matter. As was pointed out in the uncensored video, a law is pending in Canada which will make it a crime punishable by jail to call a woman--who calls herself a man--by female pronouns. Thus, at least for a time, the legal and social definitions are hopelessly intertwined.

But the groundswell of murmuring will simply not be legislated away. Witness the grumbling by female athletes at this year's Olympics over the  IAAF's decision not to disqualify athletes from competing as women, even if they have characteristically male testosterone levels--which means that by the next Olympics, female competitors who aren't doping up on testosterone won't stand a chance of winning, at least not against a Russian athlete.

The societal definition of transgender in Western civilization is certainly in flux, more so than it has been since the fall of Rome. But everything eventually trends toward the mean, so the current societal ambivalence will eventually give way to biological reality. In the meanwhile, buckle your seat-belts: we are in for a wild ride.