New Decade: Time To Look Back – and Forward

This week we turn the calendar to 2010.

Looking back a century, it is important to remember what an important year 1910 was for the Church.  That was the year barriers between denominations started to be lowered, and cooperative efforts began for global evangelism across denominational lines.

It was 100 years ago the historic 1910 Edinburgh Conference brought together 1,400 participants from around the world (although only 17 from the global south).  This historic meeting was the accelerator for the student missions movement, while also laying the groundwork for the establishment of the World Council of Churches

What has happened in the past century?

Rick Warren helps us look forward at the Church summarizing these shifts of the past century:

In 1900, 71% of all, ‘Christians’ lived in Europe; by ’00 it had declined to just 28% who claimed to be Christian. Far fewer go to church.

Conversely, in 1900, only 10% of all people in Africa (10 million) were Christians vs. over 50% (360 million) today. That is a complete turnaround on a continent that’s never, ever been seen or done in history.

I may surprise some when I say that there are by far more Christians in China than in America.

There are more Presbyterians in Ghana than in Scotland, where they were founded by John Knox.

There are more Baptists in the India state of Nagaland than in the American South.

There are more Anglicans in Kenya or Uganda or Rwanda or Nigeria than in England. There are 2 million Anglicans in England compared to 17 million in Nigeria.

Last Sunday, more Christians went to church in China than all of Europe combined. That is a fundamental shift.

As you turn the calendar to 2010, stop to celebrate God’s working in so many parts our world that seemed unreachable 100 years ago.  And pray the Lord will bring a reevangelization to those countries who once were the pace setters for Christians.

What will the Church look like 100 years from now?

My Book Releases – The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders

For sometime I’ve been encouraged to take the time to write and share some of the leadership principles that have been important to me through 21 years in the college presidency. As our faculty, and others of you who write know, it takes discipline and it’s sometimes hard to stay in the chair long enough to get ideas onto paper.

But with the encouragement of our Board of Trustees (they even put it in my annual evaluation to make this a priority) this three year project is now in print and was released last week.  One of my great joys about the book is the opportunity to share the stories of how God has worked so marvelously at Belhaven through these years.

David C. Cook is the publisher.  They are working with B&B Media to help get out the word about the book, and I discovered last week that the daughter of the VP for B&B, Diane Morrow, is studying dance here at Belhaven – Amy Morrow.

With their guidance I started a round of radio interviews last week, and there are more on the schedule – Detroit, Charlotte, Des Moines, Cleveland, etc. – I’ll be sharing on the American Family Radio broadcast to several hundred stations tomorrow with Matt Friedman.

On Wednesday the 28th at 4:30 central time, I’ll have the honor to talk about the ideas of the book on the national broadcast of Prime Time America, on Moody Radio .

I put in the campus mail today a signed copy of the book to each faculty and staff member because they make leadership easy for me at Belhaven. Thanks!!

But if you’re not on the team here at Belhaven and would like a copy, it is on all the major book websites now, and will be featured in Family Christian Stores and in LifeWay Christian Stores during the month of November.

Here is the quick link to Amazon where you can order, or share your reviews if you like (of course, if you don’t like it, just tell me instead of the whole world on Amazon!!)

Had some nice endorsements for the book including Ken Blanchard, Joni Erickson-Tada, Michael Lindsay, Ed Young, Steve Douglass, Duane Litfin, and Doug Birdsall.

There is a website for the book as well:

Since you know me, you won’t be surprised that some concepts run against the norm of traditional leadership thinking, such as the chapter:  Planning Will Drain the Life from Your Ministry. This has been one of the hallmarks of distinction for Belhaven, and while our long-term faculty and staff lived through this dramatic shift, those who are newer may be interested to know the philosophy behind our not having a traditional long-range plan.

The core focus of the book is on pages 11 and 12, calling us to break free from the immediate results driven culture that has taken over business – and permeated the church as well.

Our theology and our ministry passion draw us to talk about longview outcomes as our heart’s desire, but we have been duped into fostering a generation of leaders, board members, employees, and constituencies who value short-term gain over longview significance. Ministry leaders believe it and act accordingly—hiring and rewarding people who can promote Band-Aid fixes as monumental solutions, creating plans that promise the moon and always come up short, raising funds from unrealistically compressed donor relationships, and touting to boards and constituencies those results that can most easily be measured and applauded.

Because this short-view corporate culture has so permeated the church today, we in ministry have loosened our grip on the biblical model for leadership. . . . The time is right for rising leaders to break free from the short-term leadership patterns of the past and set their sites on the horizon to ensure a life of leadership that will be honoring to God and bring us back to principles that will allow the church to make a transformational difference in the world.

We need to be leading for significance rather than giving into the pressure for short-term results.  This book not only calls us to this priority, but deals with the practical implications of leading for the longview.

I’d welcome your feedback and insights.  You can leave them here, or on blog.


The Long View 3D cover

Wanting to Help the Flood Victims in India?

Many times when we see news of disasters on TV we want to help, but don’t have a way to respond with help through someone we know and trust to use the money properly.

A friend I’ve worked with in India sent me this email yesterday.  If you have a heart to help with the India flood and don’t know how to make a gift that can be used well, Sam is someone in whom you can give confidently.

Sam’s report of the flood is overwhelming – read below.

He gets more ministry out of very little money than about anyone I know (he is on such a tight budget he doesn’t even have a web site) so I’m sure he’ll be thankful for whatever you’d like to share.  His contact information is at the bottom of his email.

Dear Doctor Parrott:

Greetings to you in the name of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The worst flooding in 100 years has hit the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in India. Over 300 people have died and over 10 million others are homeless. Transportation and electric power was cut off. People are suffering without food, drinking water, clothes and shelter. These floods effected over 30,000 Christian families and also many of Gospel Outreach Ministries church buildings/ shelters for the orphans and elderly widows.

Hindus have cried out to their gods for help as they saw the flood waters rush by and wondered why their gods and goddesses did not help them. Some lost their small children while trying to cross to safer places. Unable to fight against the rushing waters, elderly people died. Loosing everything in the floods, some have committed suicide and died. Dead bodies of people and animals are submerged in contaminated waters.

Many of the people who have survived the floods are suffering from fever, swelling and other waterborne sicknesses. Most of the crops were destroyed so there is no income for the poor that work the fields for a living. Cobra snakes are swimming in the waters to seek refuge in the palm tree roofs and biting people. Prices of food have escalated as crops were destroyed under water.

Currently over 100 non-believers are receiving help and shelter at Gospel Outreach Ministries campus at Repalle, Andhra Pradesh.

Our evangelists and Bible ladies are reaching out to them and ministering to them. They are showing “The Life of Jesus” movie in Telugu language with generators.

At this critical time we earnestly request your prayers and financial help. We need extra funds to help the flood survivors with food, clean water, medicines, clothes, hygiene kits, blankets and a Bible.

Please pray for Gospel Outreach Ministries Evangelists and Bible Women who are risking their lives taking this opportunity to reach out and touch the flood survivors with the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ.

With Jesus’


Sam Paul Gokanakonda

Gospel Outreach Ministries International

8476 Old State Route 21

Hillsboro, MO 63050

Tel: 636 948 9836


Rules for Writers

Known as the master wordsmith, William Safire died last week.  He was a former speech writer for Richard Nixon, and author of the New York Times column, “On Language”

Some of his clever “rules for writers” included:

  1. If any word is improper at the end of sentence, a linking verb is.
  2. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. Proof read carefully to see if you words out.
  5. Remember to never split an infinitive.
  6. Do not put statements in the negative form.
  7. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  8. The passive voice should never be used.
  9. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  10. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  11. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  12. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

H1N1 News Update….More to Follow

Later this week I will release the details of our campus plan to help us prepare for the H1N1 flu that is already hitting many schools and colleges. Thanks to many of you who shared insights to be considered as we’ve built this plan.

With a widespread pandemic possible, the experts agree that the best things you can do are simple:

1. Wash your hands and/or use sanitizer often

2. Cover your mouth when you cough.

3. Isolate those who catch this flu until at least 24 hours after the fever breaks.

They strongly recommend a flu shot when the vaccine is available. We have already ordered them for the college.

The local CBS news featured a seminar hosted by our biology department Friday night dealing with the virus. The seminar was: “H1N1 Influenza virus (swine flu): Present state, Prevention, Prognosis” presented by Dr. Paul Byers, Medical Director, Mississippi State Board of Health

The link to that video clip can be found here.


The Perspective of This Year’s New Students

Each fall the humanities department of Beloit College attempts to help academics understand the incoming first year students with its “Mindset List” which reflects what the class of freshmen will have experienced, or don’t know.

It is always interesting and sobering to read this list – and makes lots of us feel older than we wish we were.  Here is their introduction, and a portion of this year’s list:

If the entering college class of 2013 had been more alert back in 1991 when most of them were born, they would now be experiencing a severe case of déjà vu. The headlines that year railed about government interventions, bailouts, bad loans, unemployment and greater regulation of the finance industry. The Tonight Show changed hosts for the first time in decades, and the nation asked “was Iraq worth a war?”

  • They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
  • Dan Rostenkowski and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
  • The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
  • Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
  • Rap music has always been mainstream.
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
  • The KGB has never officially existed.
  • Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
  • Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
  • The European Union has always existed.
  • There has always been a Cartoon Network.
  • They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
  • Women have always outnumbered men in college.
  • There have always been flat screen televisions.
  • Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
  • Someone has always been asking: “Was Iraq worth a war?”
  • Most communities have always had a mega-church.
  • There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
  • Avon has always been “calling” in a catalog.
  • Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.

Big Win for Korea

Y.E. Yang impressively won the PGA Championship on Sunday.  It wasn’t that Tiger Woods lost the tournament, but clearly the Korean player beat him with a remarkable eagle on #14, and an incredibly difficult approach shot on 18 to secure the win. (Mr. Yang’s second round started with 4 bogies on the first 5 holes, but clearly he was focused enough to get back on track.)

Golf is HUGE in Korea.  I had the opportunity to play there this summer with my host, Dr. Billy Kim, president of Far East Broadcasting.  The course was demanding in the magnificent mountains about two hours outside of Seoul, the players were strong, and even the caddies were intimidating

I have never seen anything like these caddies. They managed five golfers and take care of everything for you – even bring green tea ice cream as in the picture below.  The carts run on a guidance system so they can move them forward remotely, and have communication systems to the group in front to assure you don’t need to wait to play the next hole.  It was quite a production.

 Seoul, with it’s 10 million people, doesn’t have much room for golf, so they build driving ranges throughout the city – often over parking lots.  A couple pictures from my trip are below:



Standing for Faith in Christ

I received this email a few minutes ago from one of my friends at Elam. I trust you’ll join me in supporting these two women with  prayer for God’s strength in this battle to stand for their faith in Christ.

Dear friends,

In a dramatic session before the revolutionary court yesterday (Sunday August 9) in Tehran, Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) were told to recant their faith in Christ. Though great pressure was put on them, both women declared that they would not deny their faith. Maryam and Marzieh were originally arrested on March 5, 2009 and have suffered greatly while in prison, suffering ill health, solitary confinement and interrogations for many hours while blindfolded.

On Saturday August 8, Maryam and Marzieh were summoned to appear in court on Sunday August 9 in order to hear a verdict on their case.  The chief interrogator had recommended a verdict of ‘apostasy.’  However, when they arrived, no verdict was actually given.  Instead, the court session focussed on the deputy prosecutor, Mr Haddad, questioning Maryam and Marzieh about their faith and telling them that they had to recant in both verbal and written form. This made it clear that in the eyes of the court, Maryam and Marzieh’s only crime is that they have converted to Christianity.

Mr. Haddad, asked the two women if they were Christians. “We love Jesus,” they replied.  He repeated his question and they said, “Yes, we are Christians.”

Mr. Haddad then said, “You were Muslims and now you have become Christians.”

“We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims,” was their reply.

Mr. Haddad’s questioning continued and he asked them if they regretted becoming Christians, to which they replied, “We have no regrets.”

Then he stated emphatically, “You should renounce your faith verbally and in written form.”  They stood firm and replied, “We will not deny our faith.”

During one tense moment in the questioning, Maryam and Marzieh made reference to their belief that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Haddad told them, “It is impossible for God to speak with humans.”

Marzieh asked him in return, “Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?”

Mr. Haddad then replied, “You are not worthy for God to speak to you.”

Marzieh said, “It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.”

Mr. Haddad told the women to return to prison and think about the options they were given and come back to him when they are ready (to comply). Maryam and Marzieh said, “We have already done our thinking.”

At the end of the session, Mr. Haddad told them that a judge will give them his verdict, though it is not clear who will be the judge in their case now.  He also allowed Maryam and Marzieh to have a lawyer represent them in the case for the first time since their arrest.

Both women are back in Evin prison tonight.  During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches. She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given.

Despite the concentrated effort of officials to pressure them into recanting their faith, Maryam and Marzieh love Jesus and they are determined to stand firm to the very end no matter whatever happens.  They have demonstrated their love for Jesus and would offer their lives for Him if they were called to do so.  After today’s court session they said, “If we come out of prison we want to do so with honor.”

Maryam and Marzieh’s case is a clear and harsh violation of human rights and religious liberty by Iran’s authorities. They deserve the support of all those who respect human rights and to be released without charges so they can pursue a life of freedom.

Thank you for praying.
The Elam team

Stuart Irby Woke Up!

Five weeks after the horrific accident our friend, Stuart Irby, woke up from his coma on Friday. I received a call from Cal Wells who had just left the hospital and was overwhelmed at the remarkable difference in Stuart. Stuart’s assistant, Sylvia Gore called me Saturday and invited me to come see him.

When I arrived at the hospital this afternoon I saw a large group of people around a patient in a hospital bed that was sitting up. I started to go around the group into the hospital and then recognized Kate Irby. Stuart’s family was there to see him including Karen, who has also been so severely injured in this accident. Their children were there as were others in the family, and of course Charles, who has been the world’s greatest brother through all this.

I stood back with Kate for about 10 minutes and watched, and when the line of sight opened that Stuart could see me, he pointed, smiled, and called my name. After seeing him just a week ago in such a bad state, I never thought this day might come. He took my hand and wouldn’t let it go nor would I let go of him. I’ve heard about people coming back from a coma but have never seen something like this and it was thrilling to rejoice with the family.

Stuart’s speech is slow and it takes him some time to gather his thoughts, but his personality, wit, and spirit are just the same. We didn’t talk long before he started asking about the College. He wanted to know if the baseball team was having a good season. And he wanted to know about enrollment for next fall.

I told him how often and how many people at Belhaven have been praying for him and Karen. And of course, we need to keep them in our prayers as well as the families of the two doctors who lost their lives in this tragic accident.

Stuart still has a road of recovery ahead, for he is far from returning to “normal,” but this change in just a few days is the huge step we’ve been praying for and now believe with therapy he can recover from the brain injury and regain his active life. He told me how much he wanted to get out of that chair and walk and knowing his determination it will probably happen soon.

I had the privilege to pray with Stuart as the family gathered around in front of the hospital and as we got quiet to pray I noticed Stuart leaned way forward in the chair to put his head down for our time of prayer together.

God is a great healer and to Him goes our thankfulness for bringing this miraculous change to Stuart.

Good Opportunities in Bad Economic Times

While there is lots of doom and gloom about the economy, there are some bright spots that bring good opportunities beyond simply the price of gasoline dropping.

Mortgage rates have never been lower – it is a great time to buy a house, refinance if the cost savings would make it worth the effort, or consider turning a 30 year mortgage into a 15 year mortgage to save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  CNN reports, “The 30 year fixed rate fell to 5.01%, its lowest level since Freddie Mac started conducting its survey in 1971.”

Mortgage rates dip to new all-time low

NEW YORK  ( — Mortgage rates fell to another all-time low, declining for the tenth consecutive week.

Government sponsored mortgage lender Freddie Mac said Thursday that fixed rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.01% for the week ending Jan. 8th. That’s down from 5.10% last week and well below 5.87%, which is where the rate stood at this time last year.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage has not been lower since Freddie Mac started conducting the survey in 1971.

Mortgage rates continue to respond to the Federal Reserve’s decision to purchase mortgage backed securities from Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500), Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) and Ginnie Mae, according to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

“On November 25, 2008, the Federal Reserve announced that it planned to purchase up to $500 billion of these securities by the end of June this year. For the sake of comparison, there were roughly $4.7 trillion of such securities backed by home mortgages available as of September 30, 2008,” Nothaft said in a release Thursday.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage this week averaged 4.62%, which is down from 4.83% last week. A year ago at this time, that rate averaged 5.43%.

The 15-year rate has not been this low since June 13, 2003, when it averaged 4.6%.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 5.49% this week, down from last week when they averaged 5.57%. At this time a year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 5.63%.

And the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.95% this week, up from 4.85% last week. Last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.37%.

“Since the end of October 2008, these rates have declined by almost 1 1/2 percentage points,” said Nothaft. “[That’s a] payment savings of about $184 a month for a $200,000 loan – an additional $11 from last week.”