Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Church on the Camel's Path

Two men named Ahmed and Mechela were driving through the African desert, on their way to visit some Christ followers in a distant region.

As they bumped along the rutted dirt track, they came upon two elderly men walking with large burdens wrapped in blankets on their shoulders. But Ahmed didn’t slow down; in fact, he stepped on the accelerator, hard. It was not uncommon to be waylaid by criminals brandishing AK-47s, and Ahmed was in no mood to take any chances.

They were about two hundred kilometers from a region where a special person named Maysa lived. She was a was a very ordinary person, traveling with her husband and livestock around the the countryside with groups of other nomads looking for grazing areas for the animals. The couple were both Christians, alone in an area where everyone else was Muslim. Maysa had attended a training seminar offered by a missions organization, in which she learned how to tell stories from the Bible, beginning at creation and moving forward chronologically toward Christ. As soon as she rejoined her family, Maysa began sharing these stories with other nomadic women. That was just one year ago.

As soon as Ahmed and Mechela roared past the elderly men in a cloud of dust, the Holy Spirit pressed Ahmed as hard as he had pressed the gas pedal. Ahmed felt instantly convicted that he had made a poor choice, and he found himself easing off the gas and stepping on the brake.

The elderly men clambered into the backseat, bowing and grinning to the Christians in the front as they dumped their burdens, from which no firearms appeared, onto the floor. Mechela breathed a sigh of relief.

Soon they were chatting together. Mechela asked,  “Would you like to hear a story?” he asked. There were no radio stations in the desert, and storytelling was a good way to pass the time, so the men readily agreed, “Well” continued Mechela, getting comfortable in his reversed position on the front seat, ‘do you know where the whole world came from? It was like this: in the beginning… .” He had not gotten more than a minute into his story when he was abruptly interrupted. “Oh, we already know that story!” cried the hitchhikers in unison.

Poor Mechela was taken aback once again. He stared at his new friends with open mouth, too surprised to speak, so Ahmed rescued him by asking the men to tell their own story of creation. And they proceeded to recite it verbatim according to the way his missions team taught the Scriptures to those who could not read. As the men began to tell Mechela and Ahnied the story of Noah, Ahmed asked them, “Excuse me, but where did you learn these stories?

“Last rainy season,” the men answered, “a man moved to our village and taught us these stories and many others. Let us tell you about the great Flood... and we have many other stories that we would like to tell you.”

It took the remainder of the trip, but Ahmed and Mechela eventually were able to piece things together. They traced the source of the Bible stories that the men had learned all the way back to Maysa and her husband, who had led others to become disciples of Christ, who in turn had gone to distant villages and shared the gospel with more nomads. These two elderly men, hitchhiking their way through the desert, were the fifth generation of Christ followers growing out of Maysa’s efforts, and they were on their way to share the gospel with a young couple who would soon be married and would carry it on to others. And all this took place in the space of one year!

This spreading of the gospel through the desert, one person sharing Scripture stories with another outside of any formal setting, is what Ahmed and his team call “the church on the camel’s path.

(excerpted from Jerry Trousdale, Simple Churches: Dramatic Transformations, Rapid Replication, Mission Frontiers, Sep/Oct 2012)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

His toughest years were when there was no Bible

He was locked in a cell by himself for a year, without a Bible. Bounchan asked the guard who brought his food to send a message to his wife. "Tell my wife, 'Would you please help me? Bring me a Bible. I cannot live without the Bible."' But a Bible was forbidden in Laos.

After a year in solitary confinement, Bounchan was put to work carrying firewood and clearing rice fields. Eventually, the guards trusted Bounchan enough to let him gather firewood alone. In July or August 2007, they allowed him two or three hours to gather wood because a nearby stream was flooding. "I knew the routine," he said. "On the first day, I collected enough firewood for two days. On the second day, I swam through the flooded stream, ran to my house, took five Bibles and ran back. I hid the Bibles, then carried the firewood back to the camp."

He also smuggled in small radios wrapped in large leaves when he brought back firewood. "I read my Bible every day," he said. "I also listened to a Christian program on the radio."

The Bible and radio helped him grow in faith. One day, the guards discovered his Bible and radio and confiscated them, but Bounchan simply smuggled more into his cell. During his 13 years in prison, Bounchan owned six Bibles. His toughest years were those when he didn't have a Bible.

In January 2012, the chief of the prison told him, "Your family is so strong in their faith that Christianity has spread everywhere. That is why you remain here. We will not let you out because your family still spreads the gospel. If you want to be released, go back home, drink and play and join the [communist] party like us. Don't live like you have; stop believing in your faith or you will remain poor."

Bounchan replied, "If you stop worshiping the cement idol, if you stop worshiping the gold or bronze idol, then I will stop worshiping my God. You won't stop. Why do you force me to stop?"
Bounchan was released one month later, on Feb. 2, 2012, two years before his sentence was complete. He said, "Thank you to my brothers and sisters in America, Canada and many other countries for your faithful prayer. I know that I am still alive today because of your faithful prayer. I am now sharing my testimony because of your powerful prayer."

(from Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, August 2012, also see Bounchan: Imprisoned for Christ)

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Deliver me, Lord! I promise to serve You if You just let me live...

David Tseda joined a militia group as a young adult after 21 of his family members were killed in the Congo war. He proved to be an effective fighter and commander, but one day found himself in a hopeless situation, expecting to be killed. “Deliver me, Lord!” he pleaded. “I promise to serve You if You just let me live.”

And God did deliver him! David escaped from his captors, but ... he continued to live the same violent life.

A few years of fighting and more death all around him went by. One day his group captured a woman, who did not ask them for mercy the way they all do. Instead, she kneeled a few feet away from him, and prayed out loud. “Deliver me, Lord!” she pleaded. “I promise to serve You if You just let me live.”

David stopped dead in his tracks. Though the noise around him only grew louder as his militia group barked orders to the kneeling woman and their other prisoners, David heard nothing — just her words pounding over and over in his head. He, too, had prayed that very same prayer a few years before. He recalled his promise to God. I never kept my end of the bargain, he suddenly realized. It’s time to make it right.

David became the first demobilized fighter in the region in 2004 when he left the militia to study the Bible at Shalom University. Walking onto campus in his fatigues that first day, he had no idea what he would do or how God might use him — all he knew was that he had a promise to keep.

Now, eight years later, David serves as the pastor of a local church and has returned to Shalom to earn a master’s degree in theology. David said, “I want to help demobilized soldiers just like me experience the forgiveness and purpose of life that I have found in Christ.”

(adapted from Surprising Outcome in Congo, Crossworld, August 11, 2012)

From Crossworld: Most Congolese Christians lost their Bibles in the Congo war. They long to purchase new ones, but the current cost for one Bible is equivalent to $1,000 — an impossible price for people who make less than that in a year. Give to the Congo Bible Project #91025 and help offer Bibles at a dramatically reduced cost.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Evolutonists can create Soap Scum, but for Life you need a Creator!

David Deamer is one of the world’s foremost research scientists studying abiogenesis, or how biological life could arise by itself. In 2006, Deamer thought he would improve upon Stanley Miller's famous 1953 experiment, by starting with with an idealized source of chemicals of his own choosing. It is rather humorous that Deamer named his article, “Self-assembly processes in the prebiotic environment.” The only thing assembled in this experiment was soap scum! Indeed, God gives clear testimony of Himself that He alone is the creator of life.

(Selections from Timothy R. Stout, "The Testimony of Soap Scum," published in Creation Matters, a publication of Creation Research Society, Volume 17, Number 3, May/June 2012, to appear at

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David Deamer is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is one of the world’s foremost research scientists studying abiogenesis, or how biological life could arise from inorganic matter through natural processes.

In 2006, Deamer decided to go beyond Stanley Miller's famous experiment. In 1953 Miller mixed water vapor, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen in a spark chamber, and actually ended up producing a unusable types of amino acids, tar, fatal molecules, too much hydrogen, and a 50/50 mix of both the useless right-handed amino acids and their left-handed counterparts (see "Primordial Soup" - Actually a Most Toxic Brew)

Deamer thought he would improve upon Miller's results, by starting with with an idealized source of chemicals of his own choosing, at the ratios with each other he believed would be most conducive to achieving positive results, and at concentrations that he hoped might produce reportable results. If any scenario should demonstrate realistic progress towards abiogenesis, it seems that this would be it.

Boiling pools investigated in
(a) Kamchatka and (b) Mt Lassen sites.
Note the depression at the lower edge
of the Kamchatka pool that indicates
one of the clay sampling sites.
Scale bar, 25 cm.
His team conducted the experiments in geothermal volcanic aquifers at both the Russian Kamchatka and Mt Lassen in California. They added a defined set of primary molecular constituents of life to the hot springs. This included four amino acids (glycine, L-alanine, Laspartic acid and L-valine, 1 g each), four nucleobases (adenine, cytosine, guanine and uracil, 1 g each) sodium phosphate (3 g), glycerol (2 g) and myristic acid (1.5 g). The idea was that in a natural setting this ideal set of chemicals would automatically react with one another in the direction of life.

Surprising results

Deamer's research team was surprised at the results:
A white scum appeared in the Kamchatka pool within minutes of adding the organic mixture. The precipitate is probably a mixed iron and aluminum soap, which would remove the fatty acid as a potential reactant.

The phosphate and added amino acids were below detectable limits in minutes to hours.

The observation that organic compounds were below detection limits so rapidly was surprising.

The origin of life in a natural setting would have had a variety of possible fates other than those observed in a laboratory setting, where pure compounds react in glass containers.
Deamer is one of the foremost biochemists in the world. Yet, he was still unprepared for how much harsher a natural environment is than a laboratory setting. He effectively acknowledged that there can be all kinds of unexpected glitches that would be capable of thwarting abiogenesis in a natural setting.

Naturally occurring roadblocks have so far thwarted every effort to provide a clear, successful demonstration of an advance in abiogenesis at any stage. This is true even with all of the advantages
of a “laboratory setting, where pure compounds react in glass containers.” How much more in the wild, where Deamer demonstrated even worse results.

Deamer had yet another unexpected result. Many articles have been written proposing clay surfaces as a means of concentrating monomers such as amino acids and nucleotides in order to promote their concatenation into proteins and nucleic acids. The clay served to isolate the molecules attached to it, not force them together. This is not what was supposed to happen!

It is rather humorous that Deamer named his article, “Self-assembly processes in the prebiotic environment.” The only thing assembled in this experiment was soap scum. This does not bode well for those who are staking their eternal destiny on the validity of abiogenesis. Indeed, God gives clear testimony of Himself by His creation. This testimony is so clear that He considers a person who does not receive it to be without excuse.


Deamer, D., S. Singaram, S. Rajamani, V. Kompanichenko, and S. Guggenheim. 2006. Self-assembly processes in the prebiotic environment. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 361:1809–1818.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Filipino Christians Reaching the Least-Reached

Filipino believers Serena* and Chesa* had been reluctant to minister among the mountain tribes at first. “The people are too resistant,” they explained. Left unspoken were their fears about working in an area of the Philippines where conflict with Muslim rebel tribes has resulted in blood feuds, kidnappings and intimidation. Nevertheless, they and other students at the Life Resources Foundation traveled to these Muslim tribal areas, bringing their newly acquired agricultural and teaching skills and a readiness to share truth as they served the impoverished people.

Since 2002, the Life Resources Foundation (LRF) has been serving the evangelical church in the Philippines by training committed Filipino believers to plant churches cross-culturally among least-reached Muslims in their own country. Its two-year residential training program combines formal Biblical training, mentorships and hands-on ministry experience with vocational training. This unique combination prepares students to meet the practical needs in these Muslim communities through agriculture, literacy and community health.

At the LRF, experienced Christar workers equip the church planters of tomorrow, not only with theological knowledge, but also with practical skills. These skills open doors for them to address spiritual needs among isolated and resistant Muslim tribal areas where men, women and children live with little hope of ever knowing the good news of Jesus.

Instead of the resistance they expected, when Serena and Chesa visited the mountain tribe, the imam (a Muslim religious leader) invited these two students to live long term among his people and teach the children! He was concerned about the lack of education among the children in his community, and Serena and Chesa were able to meet that need. Now LRF graduates, they live, work and share the gospel among this least-reached Muslim tribe.

There are 13 communities of least-reached Muslims on or near the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. All desperately need to hear the good news of Christ. Together these groups number over 5 million individuals who have no gospel witness in their own language and culture. These communities also have significant physical needs: 30 percent fall below the poverty line, and almost 6,000 people die prematurely every year due to water pollution, poor sanitation and poor hygiene. The need for church-planting teams among the least-reached in Mindanao is staggering—far greater than the handful of Christar missionaries there can meet alone. However, though the Life Resources Foundation, Christar partners with the existing evangelical church in the Philippines, training Filipino men and women to plant churches in these difficult areas.

Since 2002, 70 men and women have graduated from the LRF, and we praise God that LRF graduates are currently sharing the good news of Christ with eight of the 13 Muslim people groups on or near the island of Mindanao. The Lord has used the financial support of churches and individuals to prepare Filipino believers for ministry that multiplies, establishing His church in areas where, just a few years ago, no one had heard the good news. Would you prayerfully consider how He could you use you as well, by praying or giving toward the ministry of the LRF?

(Reposted from Christar, for FAQ and more info on LRF, see

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Methane lakes on Saturn's moon? Young creation yet again...

Planetary scientists think they have detected a lake filled with methane on Saturn’s moon Titan, as reported in the scientific journal Nature.1

An artist imagines
methane lakes on Titan.
Nature pointed out that scientists are puzzled how any methane could still remain after the presumed 4.5 billion years of Titan’s existence, given that a methane lake like this must be replenished within a ten-thousand year time scale!

Marko comments: It is much easier to explain if we accept that God created the Earth and the planets of our solar system within the last ten thousand years, as taught in God's own word to us, the Bible.

(excerted from David Copperedge, "Titan Lake News: Throwing Caution to the Wind", Creation Evolution Headlines, June 15, 2012. Also published in Creation Matters, a publication of Creation Research Society, Volume 17, Number 3, May/June 2012, to appear at

Let's consider these scientists' conclusion in the Nature article:
General circulation models demonstrate that long-lasting tropical lakes several metres deep must be replenished, depending on the ethane content, within a ten-thousand-year timescale. Taken together, tropical lakes and studies of Titan’s lakes suggest that, currently, subterranean liquid supplies methane to Titan’s surface and atmosphere. A supply of on average 6 × 10−4 kg m−2 yr−1 is needed to explain the composition of Titan’s atmosphere, because methane, the progenitor of the moon’s organic species, is destroyed in 10–100 million years through solar ultraviolet photolysis. More observations are needed to determine whether this 4.5-billion-year-old moon is undergoing a specific recent flourish of geological activity, because it is freezing and its orbit decaying.
What that last sentence implies is that scientists are being forced by the evidence to consider special conditions – “a specific recent flourish of geological activity” – to account for the presence of methane on Titan at all. At most, the methane on this bizarre moon would all be gone in 100 million years, one fortieth the assumed age of Titan, unless it were constantly being supplied from somewhere. Underground reservoirs might provide a convenient (unobservable) hiding place for the stockpile, but that solution arouses geological puzzles about how deep the methane would need to be, how it would form, and how it could erupt onto the surface. Added to that are indications that since Titan is freezing and its orbit is decaying, there should be less geological activity, not more.

Secular scientists are generally reluctant to invoke any “specific recent flourish” of activity occurring right at the time humans are around to observe it. Why now, and not throughout Titan’s lifetime?

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1. Caitlin A. Griffith et al, Possible tropical lakes on Titan from observations of dark terrain, Nature 486, 14 June 2012, pp. 237–239, doi:10.1038/nature11165.