Monday, March 31, 2014

Article by Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok on the Allah issue

This is the latest response on the Allah Issue that has plagued the Church in Malaysia for many years now. Looks like our Church leaders are rising up and saying, "Enough id Enough". Let us all link our hearts as we join our Christian leaders in prayer for wisdom and courage to do and say the right things at this critical times that we are living in today.

This article has been taken from The Malaysian Chronicle.

Saturday, 29 March 2014 19:56
ALLAH: No more turning the other cheek - Archbishop warns
Written by Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok

Today, we are gathered here in Bandar Sri Aman, a town whose very name means peace. This is indeed an historic assembly. History will surely judge us by what we say and do from today henceforth. We are on a prophetic threshold as children of God.
The Bible reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:8 that there is a time for war and a time for peace. It seems a paradox that we are called to be peacemakers by our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus (Matthew 5:9). Yet at the same time we are also to brace ourselves for war. Herein lies the mystery of living out our faith in obedience to our calling as Christians and to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the words of a highly respected clergyman, “Because by the grace of God we are defined as family with a call to action in reconciliation, then we have to find not only the call but also the means of being reconcilers, when our instincts and passions often lead us in the opposite direction.”
“If the Church is not a place both of conflict and of reconciliation, …it is a failing or failed church. It has ceased to be the miracle of diversity in unity, of the grace of God breaking down walls.”
Turning the other cheek is not the right answer in this situation
With its multi-ethno-religious makeup, Malaysia can present itself as a model to be a miracle of diversity in unity. Unfortunately, the scourge of that ethno-religious strife is fast approaching its flashpoint with extremist elements of political Islam relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry.
How then do we live? Some among those who mean well have suggested that when slapped on one cheek we are to offer the other. This is half-baked theology if turning the other cheek tantamount to sending a wrong message to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that we are willing abandon our calling to being peacemakers and reconcilers.
These extremists among political Islam are, in fact, a tyranny by the minority while the rest of us including peace-loving Muslims and non-Muslims, have been sucked into the spiral of silence only to become the suffering majority. Ultimately, it is for all Malaysians of goodwill to ensure that Malaysia is not hijacked by the deluded minority.
To turn the other cheek in these circumstances is indeed to bear false witness to the Gospel of reconciliation itself. This we will not do.

Systematic insanity
The insanity that we are facing has become so systemic that even the judiciary has seen it fit to abandon sound principles of jurisprudence and taken an unprecedented extra-judicial position that the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity. This is an uncalled for, unnecessary and a gross insensitive provocation.
This is a travesty of our constitutional and human right for the Church to manage its own affairs including translation of our Holy Scriptures into Bahasa Malaysia and our native languages. This is the exclusive ecclesiastical authority of the Church that neither the state nor the judiciary should trespass in accordance to settled international convention and law.
The continuing prohibition on the use of the word “Allah “has far reaching consequences affecting the profession and practice of the Christian faith amongst the Bahasa Malaysia and other indigenous language speaking Christians of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak (including those who are currently residing in Peninsula Malaysia) who constitute 64 % of the Christians in Malaysia.
The recent finding of the Court of Appeal that the word “Allah” is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity affects the rights of 1.6 million Bumiputera Christians in Sabah and Sarawak who use Bahasa Malaysia and their own native tongues as the medium to profess and practice their Christian faith.
The word “Allah” as referring to God has always, continuously and consistently been used by these Bumiputera Christians in all aspects of the Christian faith including all forms of religious services, prayers, worship, liturgy, and religious education and there is irrefutable historical evidence in support of this.
Extremists so bold now, even copies of Alkitab are being seized
The finding of the Court of Appeal has emboldened certain extremist Muslim religious authorities to seize copies of the ALKITAB BERITA BAIK and the BUP KUDUS the Bible in the Iban language (in which the word “Allah” is used) which were specifically imported into Malaysia for the use of our Bumiputera Christians thereby violating their inalienable rights to complete religious freedom as guaranteed under the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal Constitution.
We must be reminded of our cultural heritage as Christians that it is neither accident nor coincidence that Sarawak is the only Christian majority state in the country. Our status is one of divine appointment. It is not surprising then that Sarawak is known as the Bible belt of Malaysia.
The fact that the Church in Sarawak has not for once demanded that the post of the Chief Minister or that of the Governor be picked from among Christians bears testimony to the extent the Church is willing to go for the sake of reconciliation and peacemaking.
We have and are doing our part in reconciliation. We feel that it is incumbent on the Federal government to recognise our cultural heritage and our constitutional rights to practise our faith without undue interference and intervention.
Revert to status quo
We, therefore, urge the Federal government to revert to the status quo by entering into consent judgments for the three cases still before the courts related to the use of the prohibited word.
It has not been easy for us. But because by the grace of God we are defined as family with a call to action in reconciliation, it is our sacred responsibility to find not only the call but also the means of being reconcilers, when our instincts and passions often lead us in the opposite direction.
We have gone the extra mile for the sake of reconciliation.

May God bless Malaysia.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Invaluable Advise for all Pastors

John Piper Responds to Pastor David Yonggi Cho's Conviction for Embezzling $12M by Making Plea to US Pastors March 5, 2014

When asked about the conviction of David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation in South Korea, for embezzling $12 million from his church, popular pastor John Piper took the opportunity to warn pastors in the U.S. who might "love money," in a recent message.
"With every public dishonoring of Christ, every public dishonoring of His Word and His Gospel, and His Church, it makes me angry and it makes me sorrowful," said Piper in a recent episode of Ask Pastor John.

Yonggi Cho who pastors Yoido Full Gospel Church and oversees a network of churches numbering 800,000, was found guilty by a South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption amounting to $12 million, according toYonhap News Agency. He received a suspended sentence of three years in prison with a five year probation and was ordered to pay a penalty of $4.7 million by Seoul Central District Court on Feb. 20.

One of Cho's sons, Hee-jun, who serves as secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center and was a former chairman of Next Media, was sentenced to three years in prison.
"My response to this is really not to pile on any additional condemnation … but rather to try to respond for the rest of us in a way that tries to prevent these kinds of things," said Piper.

"I want pastors to keep watch on themselves. I have five pleas to pastors. My hope is that pastors will listen this and take this 68-year-old pastor's heart-aching that we not bring this kind of reproach on the name of Christ," he continued. He then listed five precautions pastors should take to avoid the sinful seduction of money.

1. Kill every desire to be rich and get rich
If you see the desire in your heart take aim at it with the words of Christ and the words of Paul and put it to death with a swift blow with the sword of the spirit. Jesus said how difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom. In other words don't want this.

2. Pastors, if you see your income starting to grow, set a governor on it
Keep away from accumulating more and more and communicating to your people that you lay up treasures on earth. One of the best ways to do this I think, is to grow the percentage of your giving. I'm not impressed with a pastor who gives 30 percent of a million dollar royalty check and keeps 70 percent of it to buy luxuries with. I've heard pastors boast that they give 30, 40 percent. I'm not even impressed with giving 90 percent of a $10 million royalty check and keeping a million dollars to play with. While you look like every other millionaire and think that you have done a virtuous thing. Money is insidiously deceptive. We've seen it over and over again and I'm pleading with pastors, be content with what the church pays you and give the rest away with joy and strategic wisdom.

3. Be totally transparent with your fellow elders about your sources of income
These elders should not be the wealthy powerful peers from outside the church. That is an unbiblical way to lead your flock. It has no biblical foundation and it communicates distrust for your local leaders and a kind of pride that you are above their local accountability. Let all the books of your income be open to any member of your church who asks the elders. Secrecy around money is deadly. It's a sign that something is not right so work to give your ministry the flavor, 'we're not like peddlers of God's word.'

4. Live simply to show that your treasure is in heaven and not on earth
Please don't write this off as pauper theology. There goes Piper again with his pauper theology. That is absolutely ridiculous. The kind of distortion that makes of what I'm saying is a sign of fear that what I'm saying just might be true.
Get a car that works; that gets you where you need to go. Get a car that doesn't break down on you every few months. I'm talking about a modest entertainment budget that doesn't eat out every night. I'm talking about a refreshing vacation, not an exorbitant one. I'm talking about clothes that are unremarkable and undistracting, both for not being shabby and not being brand driven. I'm talking about a home that accomplishes your family and ministry purposes leaning towards ordinary folks in your congregation, not the wealthiest.

5. Put in place a leadership structure of a plurality of elders
A council of elders on which you the pastor have one vote. You are a chief among equals…not by having veto power over everyone else.

"I'm so jealous of these things because I am jealous for the name of Christ. His name is being blasphemed Paul said … the name of God is being blasphemed because of you. 'You abhor idols and you rob temples.' That is hypocrisy to the core … that is happening today because of pastors who love money," Piper ended.

David Yonggi Cho Found Guilty by the Court.

This is an Article taken from The Gospel Herald which was published on the 21st February 2014. This Article is of special interest to us because of the close ties between David Yonggi Cho and Prince Guneratnam, the Senior Pastor of Calvary Church, Kuala Lumpur.

David Yonggi Cho, Founder of World's Largest Church, Found Guilty of Breach of Trust, Corruption 

David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation, was found guilty by South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption of 13 billion won (US $12 million), according to Yonhap News Agency.  

Yoido Full Gospel Church senior pastor received a suspended sentence of three-year prison term with a five year probation and ordered to pay a penalty of 5 billion won (US $4.7 million) by Seoul Central Distrcit Court on Feb. 20, 2014.  

The court also sentenced Cho's elder son Hee-jun, secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center and former chairman of Next Media, to a three-year prison term without suspension. He was formally arrested before the court ruling, the Yonhap News reported.  

In 2002, while serving as chairman of a church-affiliated newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, Hee-jun sold the church 250,000 shares of stock in I-Service at 86,984 won (US$80.06) per share, which was much more expensive than the market price of 24,032 (US$22.12) per share, the hankyoreh reported. 

Prosecutors identified David Cho as an accomplice to the crime of breach of trust, claiming that Cho used the money to help his son recover losses made in stock investements.    

According to hankyoreh, Cho had directed the transaction, which the church has "absolutely no need for" and resulted in a loss, to be dealt with as quietly as possible despite his full knowledge of the potential "uproar" from the elders and congregation if they find out. 

The church's loss of 131 billion won resulted in 29 church elder's filing the lawsuit in 2011, accusing him of embezzling US $20 million. In addition, prosecutors acquired evidence of tax evasion during the investigation, where Cho was suspected of evading 3.5 billion won (US $3.2 million).  

While Cho has denied the allegation, he has also been criticized for privatizing church assets.  

Although the judge believes that Cho should be severely punished for committing breach of trust, especially for a person of his status in society, he gave a light sentence on Cho's tax evasion in consideration of Cho's long-term contributions to the society, the Yonghap News reported.  

The court sentenced Hee-jun to three years in prison for being the main culprit, who tried to evade responsibility - placing his personal financial loss on the church and the blame on others.  

Cho, 78, founded Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1958 and it now claims more than 450,000 followers. His proteges have built their own "disciple churches" across the country, creating a congregation of around 800,000, with Cho as the leader.