RZIM EUROPEâ€™S MAGAZINE
ISSUE 12 | AUTUMN 2012
BEYOND NARNIA: The Imaginative Appeal of Faith
C. S. Lewis
SUMMER SCHOOL 2013
Training Weekends Relaunched Introducing Christian Hofreiter Interview with John Lennox
HELPING THE THINKER BELIEVE AND THE BELIEVER THINK RZIM Europe is an evangelistic organisation that seeks to engage hearts and minds for Christ. Our speakers are trained to respond to the objections and questions that people have about faith, so that lives might be transformed by the gospel message. We also help to resource the church, through apologetics articles and talks, engagement with the media, training events and academic courses at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA). Furthermore, we run an Associates Programme for emerging evangelists around Europe and we contribute to the work of Wellspring International, RZIM’s humanitarian organisation.
our team includes: RAVI ZACHARIAS MICHAEL RAMSDEN
PRESIDENT OF RZIM AND SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT WYCLIFFE HALL
EUROPEAN DIRECTOR OF RZIM AND DIRECTOR OF THE OCCA
UK DIRECTOR OF RZIM AND CURRICULUM DIRECTOR OF THE OCCA
ADJUNCT PROFESSOR AT THE OCCA
SENIOR FELLOW AT THE OCCA
SENIOR TUTOR, OCCA AND RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
TUTOR, OCCA AND RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
TUTOR, OCCA AND RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
DIRECTOR OF RZIM ROMANIA
PRESIDENT OF THE OCCA
PRINTER | VERITÉ CM LTD DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION | KAREN SAWREY RZIM Europe is the working name of RZIM Zacharias Trust, a charitable company founded in 1997 that is limited by guarantee and registered in England. Company No. 3449676. Charity No. 1067314
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) is a partnership between RZIM and Wycliffe Hall, a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford.
RZIM Europe, 76 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6JT
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PHOTOGRAPHY | JOHN CAIRNS STOCK IMAGES | COVER IMAGE & P6: © ALAMY. INSIDE PAGES: ISTOCKphoto & Genialbaron@Shutterstock.com
T: +44 (0)1865 302900
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WELCOME TO THE T WELFTH EDITION OF
pulse magazine IN THIS ISSUE: C. S. LEWIS To mark the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis' death (2013), the next RZIM Summer School will be focusing on his apologetic work and his legacy to the Christian faith (page 9). Mere Christianity remains one of the most influential apologetics books and, in his article ‘Beyond Narnia’, Alister McGrath discusses the endearing appeal of Lewis’ work (page 6).
TRAINING EVENTS There are also a number of RZIM training events coming up over the next few months, the first of which is ‘How do I answer that?’, a day conference on 22 September in Manchester (back cover). This will be followed by a training day in Oxford on 26 January entitled ‘Confidence in the truth’. We are also happy to announce that, in February, we will be re-launching the popular RZIM Training Weekends (page 10).
INTRODUCING CHRISTIAN HOFREITER We are pleased to announce the appointment of Christian Hofreiter to the RZIM team and you can read more about his work and passion for evangelism on page 13.
effectively and the training at the OCCA is designed to equip Christians to do likewise. Sharon Dirckx explains why participating in missions is an important part of helping students on the one-year programme to develop the practical skills they need to do evangelism (page 16). The OCCA also offers a six-week course tailored to business professionals and the details of this can be found on page 12.
WELLSPRING INTERNATIONAL Another side to our ‘practical apologetics’ is Wellspring International, the humanitarian arm of RZIM. In ‘What is beautiful?’, Naomi Zacharias discusses the work of the organisation and what sex-selective abortion says about humanity (page 21).
ARGUMENTS FROM THE NEW ATHEISTS Isn’t it true that science and religion don’t mix, hasn’t Christianity caused a lot of suffering throughout history and isn’t faith the preserve of those who have no evidence? These topics are tackled by John Lennox (page 4), Michael Ramsden (page 14) and Simon Wenham (page 18) respectively.
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN LENNOX
4 6 9 10 11
THE OCCA BUSINESS PROGRAMME
BEYOND NARNIA C. S. LEWIS EVENT TRAINING WEEKENDS
INTRODUCING CHRISTIAN HOFREITER
13 WHAT IS FAITH? 14 MISSIONS AT THE OCCA 16 THE DARK SIDE OF CHRISTIAN HISTORY
EVANGELISM AND THE OCCA Our primary goal is to communicate the gospel message to others
WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL?
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PHOTOGRAPH FOR ARTICLE BY JOHN CAIRNS
John Lennox was recently awarded the 2012 Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, in recognition of his eloquent responses to naturalism and for his defence of intelligent agency in the universe from the perspective of science and philosophy (see www.johnlennox.org for further information).
John Lennox, Oxford Professor of Mathematics and one of Britain’s most popular authors on the subject of science and Christianity, talks to Jonathan Langley about proving God, unhelpful Christians and missional science. Is it important for Christian leaders to have a thirst for scientific literacy?
What should Christians be literate about, in terms of scientific theories?
I think it’s immensely important. Science has enormous cultural authority. In a sense, nature has replaced God and scientists have become nature’s high priests. There is concern on the part of churches of all kinds to increase scientific literacy, because that is where a threat is perceived. And of course it is. Because who are the gurus of the age? Dawkins and co., who are scientifically literate - or at least claim to be.
The problem lies more in the philosophy of science, rather than science itself. People need to be aware that science is limited. ‘Scientism’ is the big enemy at the moment – [the view that] science is the only way to truth. There is immense effort being put into this, to try and invade every area. The latest, very important one is ethics. Einstein rightly said, ‘You can talk about the ethical foundations of science, but not the scientific foundation of
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ethics’. But the pressure is to make science the arbiter of everything. And it’s that, more than anything else, that needs to be discussed. It’s learning that science is limited.
Do science and religion really ask fundamentally different, distinct questions about the universe? Not entirely distinct but largely distinct. It was Stephen Jay Gould who popularised the notion of
‘non-overlapping magisteria’ (NOMA, he called it) where you kept them completely separate. My own take is to say: yes, in general, science largely answers the ‘how’ question, whereas religion would answer the ‘why’ of purpose. But there is an overlap since, speaking as a Christian, the Bible does talk about the real world that physics and chemistry talk about. So there is an overlap – it’s small, but it’s highly significant. And significant because that is a position that seems to have driven a lot of Christians, particularly in North America, to a kind of anti-science position.
Is the anti-science position helpful to the debate, to the Church and to the world? Absolutely not. I think it’s a major tragedy, because it’s what the new atheists over here love: ‘you’ve got to choose: God or science.’ And I want to fight against that choice. I want to say that asking people to choose between God and science is like asking them to choose between Henry Ford and the laws of internal combustion to explain a motorcar. Which is just foolish, because you need both a description in terms of an agency (Henry Ford), and law and mechanism (the science side). School kids can see it, but Dawkins and many of his colleagues cannot. They think scientific explanation is exhaustive, which of course it isn’t.
Why do you think the anti-science movement in the Christian Church has become so popular? I think it’s broader than anti-science. There’s an anti-intellectual streak that comes from a confusion about the nature of faith. The new atheists have scored a big hit in redefining faith as believing where there is no evidence – you know, what we’d normally call ‘blind faith’. I think that’s where a lot of the problem lies. Some Christians have bought into [the idea that] faith is something that just happens to you; it’s believing where there is no evidence, so we don’t
need to enter this kind of debate. In my view this is not Biblical.
Quantum physics seems to be quite important for Christians, because it, in some ways, undermines the idea that nature is fixed and rigid, and science leaves no room for anything we can’t explain in simple, mechanical terms. But that has not connected with the public mind, unfortunately: that the old clockwork universe of Newton is no longer with us, so to speak. That opens up a whole lot of possibility obviously. The universe gets more and more mysterious. You’re absolutely right – there’s that element in there and it needs to be mentioned. How far you can take it is another matter as we don’t really understand it.
Should Christians consider the idea of paradigm shifts good news in terms of scientific apologetics? Yes and no. I think the old idea of the objective scientist observing a clockwork universe has gone. The social critique of sciences, in that sense, has done the service of recognising that science is done by communities and they all have their belief systems and we bring our theories to our observations. To quote the well-worn phrase: ‘observations are theory-laden’. However, there is a danger in taking that to its extremes where you get the postmodern, relativism of truth [that holds that] everybody’s theory is as good as anybody’s else’s. And I think I would say – although this might be a controversial thesis for some – that most working scientists are critical realists. They believe there is truth out there – we never get absolutely to it but certainly Newton’s an improvement on Aristotle or Ptolemy, and Einstein is an improvement on Newton. We are getting somewhere. But some people are more modest these days in making their truth claims because they are aware of the Kuhnian social critique of science work.
Interview by Jonathan Langley, which first appeared in Mission Catalyst 3 (2012) and was reproduced by kind permission (www.bmsworldmission.org/catalyst).
Antony Flew [a philosopher of science who made his name attacking religion and later came to the conclusion, based on scientific evidence, that God must exist] said that people like Dawkins were beyond their fields of expertise by making philosophical judgments… Well, that’s absolutely right. And Dawkins is a rotten philosopher. The best way, if you read German, is to see what’s being said about Dawkins and Hawking on the continent – they’re just not regarded as serious thinkers at all! Even though their books are bestsellers.
Do you believe we can prove God’s existence? The word ‘proof’ is loaded. If by ‘proof’ you mean mathematical proof, which is my subject, well, no, of course you can’t – you can’t prove anything except things in mathematics. You can’t prove my wife loves me. You can’t prove that Napoleon fought at Waterloo, or anything like that. But if you mean ‘proof’ in the informal sense, which means ‘prove beyond reasonable doubt’, that is ‘give evidence for’, well, that is another matter. You can’t do it in the sense of mathematics, but don’t run away with the idea that there is not very strong evidence for belief in God and Christ, enough to stake your life on it. It’s that sort of thing you want to get across.
Is engagement with science a missional issue? Utterly. We are in a battle for what is truth. And that is why many people are very happy when I talk about abstract, philosophical evidence of the existence of God, but they become very unhappy when I talk about Christ. That’s too much for them. That’s what Dawkins hates, of course.
John Lennox ADJUNCT PROFESSOR AT THE OCCA
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BEYOND NARNIA: THE IMAGINATIVE APPEAL OF FAITH PHOTOGRAPH FOR ARTICLE & COVER © AF archive / Alamy
BY A LISTER McGR ATH
Sixty years ago, C. S. Lewis published a short book entitled Mere Christianity. It was based on a series of talks Lewis had given on the BBC during the Second World War, exploring the foundations of faith and their relevance during this time of danger and uncertainty. Lewis was already well-known for his witty Screwtape Letters (1942), and was on the road to international literary acclaim through his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) – the first of the seven ‘Chronicles of Narnia’. These fantastical tales of children in the land of Narnia established him as the J. K. Rowling of the 1950s. Lewis never tired of defending the place of fairy tales in western culture. He showed an imaginative vision
of reality which contrasted with what he called the ‘glib and shallow rationalism’ he knew in his own youth. Yet most cultural analysts regarded Mere Christianity as too wedded to the anxieties and concerns of Lewis’s own age to be of any relevance to later generations. Even Lewis himself was gloomy about the future prospects of his works. They would, he once remarked, AUTUMN 2012 | PULSE ISSUE 12
IN FACT, WE ARE PRESENTED WITH A VISION, AND IT IS THE VISION THAT CARRIES CONVICTION . . . be forgotten within five years of his death. Lewis, who died in 1963, was widely regarded as an irrelevance to the new social, intellectual and religious issues of the 1960s. In its obituary for Lewis, Time magazine declared him to be ‘one of the church’s minor prophets’, a defender of the faith who ‘with fashionable urbanity justified an unfashionable orthodoxy against the heresies of his time’. Yet the tone of the obituary was that of marking Lewis’s passing, not anticipating his resurrection. Lewis would be remembered as ‘an impressive scholar’ by those who looked backwards. There was to be no future. Even Lewis’s friends regarded him as a spent force. Then Lewis bounced back. Nobody really knows why. From about 1990, Lewis enjoyed a resurgence of such magnitude that his books now sell more copies than at any point during his lifetime. He now enjoys the dubious privilege of being pilloried with equal vigour by both the American religious right and secular left – a sure sign of the potent threat that Lewis is seen to pose to the complacencies of both. Part of the explanation for this comeback lies in the continuing popular appeal of the Narnia series, given a new lease of life through big budget movies. But Lewis’s renewed appeal ultimately owes more to the ideas of Mere Christianity than to the magical world of Narnia. Lewis is more than a master story-teller. He possessed a rare ability to convey the imaginative and rational appeal of faith in a time of growing scepticism towards both religious ideas and institutions. In North America, Lewis is appealing to a new generation which has grown weary of the shallow grandstanding that has come to pass for public Christianity
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in recent decades, especially during Presidential election campaigns. A fatigue with the superficial and a yearning for the real substance of faith has driven many to pick up Lewis and read him again with new interest. In Britain, religious believers are finding Lewis both a source of spiritual depth and intellectual breadth. The rise of the so-called ‘New Atheism’ has made many within the British churches aware of the importance of apologetics, with Lewis widely acknowledged as a master of the genre. Lewis’s Narnian fantasies offered narrative adventure and religious allegory in about equal measure. Yet Mere Christianity offered a compelling vision of Christianity that still resonates with many today. To the surprise of some commentators, Mere Christianity is often identified in popular surveys as the most influential religious book of the twentieth century. Why is this? Lewis’s Oxford colleague Austin Farrer had little doubt about the reason for the work’s influence. It affirmed both the rational integrity and imaginative appeal of faith. ‘We think we are listening to an argument; in fact, we are presented with a vision, and it is the vision that carries conviction’. While offering a defence of the reasonableness of faith, Lewis emphasised the ability of faith to connect with the deepest human intuitions about life, and captivate the human imagination. It is an important point, which British churches need to take to heart as they reflect on how best to reconnect the Christian faith with their wider culture. It is one thing to argue that Christian faith makes sense. It is quite another to show that it is imaginatively compelling and existentially transformative. Yet there is another point at which Mere Christianity speaks deeply
to contemporary Christianity: on both sides of the Atlantic Mere Christianity was, and is, a manifesto for a form of Christianity that exults in essentials, regarding other matters as of secondary importance. Lewis’s notion of ‘Mere Christianity’ was more than a rejection of denominational supremacy. It was also a subtle critique of the abuses of power and privilege that so easily arise in more institutionalized forms of Christianity. Lewis is generally critical of the clergy in his writings. As a lay Christian, he came to see himself as representing a form of Christianity that recognized the crucial role of the laity, allowing neither clergy nor ecclesiastical institutions any special privileges. Perhaps this is why so many Catholics, increasingly disenchanted with the failings of their bishops and dioceses in response to allegations of child abuse, are turning to Lewis as a role model. They find in him a prophetic voice that allows them to reaffirm their personal faith, without having also to affirm the religious institutions which they believe to have tarnished this faith in recent years. Lewis has managed to unite Christians across the denominational spectrum who have come to see him as a trustworthy, intelligent, and accessible representative of a theologically and culturally attractive vision of the Christian faith. As churches and general readers prepare to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death next year, it is clear that Lewis’s writings still have immense spiritual and intellectual power.
© Alister McGrath PRESIDENT OF THE OXFORD CENTRE FOR CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS
His latest book Mere Apologetics is available in bookshops. A new biography of C. S. Lewis, written by Alister, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in March 2013. This article first appeared in The Times on Saturday, 7 January 2012.
C. S. Lewis
SUMMER SCHOOL 2013 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis, and RZIM Europe will be considering his life and works in the Oxford Summer School. RZIM SUMMER SCHOOL 2013, 30 JUNE – 6 JULY 2013
C. S. LEWIS CHALLENGE 2013 Why not take the opportunity to create a ‘C. S. Lewis group’ for the year in your local area? Each group could meet monthly to discuss different aspects of Lewis’ work. This could include holding book discussions, film nights featuring the Narnia stories, or evangelistic events with a guest speaker addressing a particular theme that C. S. Lewis covered (with a question and answer session afterwards).
‘If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.’ (C. S. LEWIS)
‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ (C. S. LEWIS) Many illustrious names are associated with the public defence of Christianity, but among the pantheon of famous apologists, C. S. Lewis looms largest. The Northern Irishman, who arrived in Oxford during the First World War as an atheist undergraduate, would leave the city, almost forty years later, as one of the most celebrated Christians in the country. In many ways, Lewis was the archetypal apologist; a gifted
communicator whose work resonated with a wide constituency ranging from academics to children. His work has also inspired generations of Christian thinkers, as there are few areas of apologetics that have not been informed, at least in some way, by this remarkable author. Whether it is the topic of miracles, prayer, joy, morality, suffering, the abolition of humankind or the nature of the spiritual realm, he was written something authoritative on it. The 2013 RZIM Oxford Summer School is a week-long apologetics conference, held at The Queen’s College, that will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis. It will include sessions that examine his legacy to the Christian community and teaching on some of the principle subjects he addressed, as well as apologetics material from RZIM that has drawn upon his work. The Summer School is designed to help and equip Christians to communicate and defend their faith more effectively. After all, the task of the apologist is much the same as an educator’s, which according to Lewis is ‘not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.’
For further information about the event see
www.rzim.eu. Bookings will be taken from 1 November.
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ILLUSTRATION BY KAREN SAWREY
TRAINING RELAUNCHED 14th – 17th February 2013, Cheltenham W E A R E P L E A S E D T O A N N O U N C E T H AT, I N F E B R U A R Y 2 013 , W E W I L L B E R E L A U N C H I N G THE POPULAR RZIM EUROPE TRAINING WEEKENDS.
Spread over three long-weekends in the year, the course provides in depth teaching in apologetics and the spiritual disciplines. Our aim is to equip each participant to be a dynamic witness in whatever context God has placed them in, by helping them to grapple with the heartfelt questions and intellectual challenges of apologetics, as well as to grow significantly in spiritual life and character. The training is structured to allow for a lot of interaction with speakers and opportunities to ask questions. Past courses have also proved to be times of forging meaningful and lasting friendships with like-minded Christians
COURSE CONTENT INCLUDES: Phase 1 (Feb, Apr and Sept)
Phase 2 (11 - 14 Apr)
Phase 3 (Sept)
• Conversational Apologetics
• New Atheism
• Eastern Spirituality
• Spiritual Disciplines
• Logical Fallacies
• The Problem of Pain
• Ethics and Judgment
• The Cross
• The Origin of the Universe
• The reliability of the Bible
SPEAKERS FOR THE COURSE INCLUDE MICHAEL RAMSDEN, AMY ORR-EWING, JOHN LENNOX, TANYA WALKER, TOM PRICE, MICHELLE TEPPER, VINCE VITALE SHARON DIRCKX AND CHRISTIAN HOFREITER.
To register your interest and for further details, please email AUTUMN 2012 | PULSE ISSUE 12
THE DIARY SELECTED EUROPEAN HIGHLIGHTS: 22 26-28 27 29-30 30
RZIM TRAINING DAY, MANCHESTER
1 2 3 17 18 22
APOLOGETICS TALK, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
10 12-14 13 19-23 24 25 27 29
ST PAUL’S THEOLOGICAL CENTRE, LONDON
CAROL SERVICE, LIVERPOOL
19 23-24 26 27–2 FEB
PHILIA WOMEN DAY CONFERENCE, CHIPPING CAMPDEN
11 14-17 18-23 18-23 25–1 MAR
HTB WOMEN’S EVENT, LONDON
APOLOGETICS TRAINING, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN BATH UNIVERSITY EVENTS
(Michael Ramsden and Tanya Walker)
APOLOGIA CONFERENCE, GOTEBÖRG, SWEDEN HOLY TRINITY BROMPTON, LONDON
ST ALDATE’S ALPHA BANQUET, OXFORD
EVANGELISTIC WOMEN’S EVENT, SOUTHWELL BATH UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN UNION
CHRISTIANS IN PROPERTY TALK, LONDON
C.S. LEWIS LECTURE, DUBLIN
COPENHAGEN UNIVERSITY MISSION
ST ALDATE’S CHURCH ALPHA COURSE, OXFORD BATH UNIVERSITY MISSION EVENTS SOLAS CONFERENCE, DUNDEE
(Michael Ramsden and Tanya Walker)
ETON COLLEGE CHAPEL AND ST PAUL’S EALING
PARLIAMENTARY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, WESTMINSTER BATH UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN UNION
(Tanya Walker and Tom Price)
RZIM TRAINING DAY, OXFORD YORK MISSION EVENTS
(Vince Vitale and Michelle Tepper)
RZIM TRAINING WEEKEND, CHELTENHAM BATH UNIVERSITY EVENTS ABERYSTWYTH EVENTS
(Michael Ramsden and Tanya Walker)
LIVERPOOL MISSION EVENTS
(Tom Price and Sharon Dirckx)
THIS LIST DOES NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE EVENTS THAT OUR SPEAKERS ARE INVOLVED WITH AND SOME MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT ANY OF THE ABOVE, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OXFORD OFFICE
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Six-Week Business Programme 27th May to 5th July 2013 Oxford, UK
OS GUINNESS MICHAEL RAMSDEN
Are you a business leader with a passion to make Christ known in the marketplace? If so, the six-week Business Programme at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics will equip you with the necessary tools to do this in a credible, culturally-engaging and relevant way. Designed for senior business people and professionals with over ten yearsâ€™ experience in the marketplace, this course will re-invigorate and envision you for your return to serve God in your work environment. Core lecturers include the world-class team of Alister McGrath, John Lennox, Os Guinness, Michael Ramsden and Amy Orr-Ewing. This intensive course seeks to invest in up to twelve people only, and it includes a dynamic mix of lectures, discussion groups and one-to-one vocational meetings, as well as giving time for spiritual reflection in a small group setting. The Biblical mandate for apologetics, the relationship between science and religion, competing worldviews, morality and ethics, and much more, are all brought together in this holistic programme. For the final week, students will attend the RZIM Summer School at The Queenâ€™s College, Oxford, where they will be joined by around 100 delegates for a week-long event which, in 2013, will focus on the apologetics of C. S. Lewis. This is the perfect course for those seeking to sharpen their evangelistic and apologetic skills for the workplace, as it provides the ideal opportunity to be refreshed, to recalibrate and then to engage at a deeper level with the world around you.
For further details and to apply online, see www.theocca.org The OCCA is a partnership between Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Wycliffe Hall, a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford. AUTUMN 2012 | PULSE ISSUE 12
INTRODUCING CHRISTIAN HOFREITER We are pleased to announce that Christian Hofreiter will be joining the RZIM team on 1 October.
Born and raised in Innsbruck, Austria, Christian will be a full-time Apologist reaching the German speaking world and a Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (having been a Senior RZIM Associate since 2008). He brings with him a diverse experience of Christian ministry, government relations and academic research and teaching in Austria, Belgium, the United States and England. For the past four years, Christian has served as a chaplain to the diverse, international graduate student body at Oxford University, working closely with senior academics, leaders of various churches and a broad variety of students. An ordained Anglican minister, he has been a member of the ministry team of St Aldates, Oxford, overseeing a large group of postgraduate students and early career academics. Christian is also currently in the final stages of a doctorate in theology at Oxford University, where his research—funded by the United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council—focuses on the Christian interpretation of the ‘genocide texts’ of the Old Testament. In 2008, he was awarded Oxford University’s Denyer and Johnson prize for the highest marks in the Final
Honour School of Theology for which he prepared at Wycliffe Hall, focussing on Biblical Studies. During his Master’s course in Biblical interpretation, he was the Gosden graduate scholar at Keble College, Oxford. Before coming to Oxford in 2006, Christian served as deacon at the Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC, where he also worked in international relations representing the interests of foreign governments and other clients to the United States Congress and Administration. Prior to that, Christian worked in Austria as a freelance interpreter and as a lecturer in translation at his alma mater, the University of Innsbruck, and also
served as a pastor at a local church. A native German-speaker with fluent English and French, Christian has a longstanding interest in cross-cultural Christian witness: His Master’s thesis at Innsbruck was supervised by an eminent translation scholar and missiologist, the late Eugene A. Nida; Christian also completed two terms of postgraduate study in intercultural theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. Christian is married to Helen, who is from England, and they have two small children. Their passion is to contribute to the re-evangelisation of Europe.
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WHAT IS FAITH? BY MICHA EL R A MSDEN
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OUR HOPE IS NOT WISHFUL THINKING ... FAITH IS THE RESPONSE TO A REAL GOD WHO WANTS TO BE KNOWN BY US
‘Faith is believing what you want to believe, yet cannot prove.’ Sadly, many people, including some Christians, live with this definition of faith. For some it feels liberating. It means being able to believe in anything you want to believe. No explanation is required, indeed, no explanation can be given; it is just a matter of faith. For others, such a definition is sickening. Embracing faith means you stop thinking. As faith increases, reason and meaning eventually disappear. No explanations can be given, and none can be expected. Thus, living in faith is living in the dark. For both groups, the problem is the same. By starting with the wrong definition of faith, they have asked the wrong question, are dealing with the wrong problem, and so have ended up with the wrong answer. Faith is not wishful thinking. It is not about believing in things that do not exist. It neither makes all things believable nor meaning impossible. So what is the right definition of faith? ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,’ writes the author of Hebrews. A few verses later faith is similarly defined as knowing that God exists and that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Perhaps the best word we can use to translate the Greek word pistis (usually translated as ‘faith’) is the word ‘trust’ or ‘trustworthy.’ Suppose you tell a friend that you have faith in her. What does that mean? It means two things. First, you are sure the person you are talking to actually exists. And second, you are convinced she is
trustworthy; you can believe what she says and trust in her character. It is in this way that the writer of Hebrews talks about faith in God. Faith is knowing that God is real and that you can trust in God’s promises. You cannot trust someone who isn’t there, nor can you rely on someone whose promises are not reliable. This is why faith is talked about as the substance of things hoped for and as the evidence of things not seen. Both words carry with them a sense of reality. Our hope is not wishful thinking. Faith does not make God real. On the contrary, faith is the response to a real God who wants to be known to us:
‘I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other’
Ever since the church began, the refrain has always been the same: Come, believe, follow the light of the world. It has never appealed for people to leap into the dark; no such invitation is found anywhere in Scripture. Instead, we are called to step into the light. The Christian gospel is not a message that revels in ignorance. It is the revelation of God in the person of Christ, so that we might know there is no other. The Christian is called to see things as they really are, and not as she would simply like them to be. We trust in a God who has been revealed to us in the Son and the Spirit. We believe because God is real. The Christian gospel invites you to delve into reality. It commands you to be honest in your commitment to know that which is true. Is Jesus real? Who did he claim to be? Is he really alive today? Faith comes in response to knowing the answers to these questions, even as Christ is calling you near. But don’t stop after the initial introductions! Just as you are able to put more trust in someone as you grow to know him, so faith increases as you grow in your relationship with Christ. There is a God who is real and true; there is a God who is near and longing to gather you nearer. The great joy of the Christian faith is found in the person who invites us to trust and believe. Michael Ramsden EUROPEAN DIRECTOR OF RZIM
(ISA I A H 45:5-6).
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MISSIONS AT THE OCCA BY SHARON DIRCK X
One of the unique features of our training at the OCCA is putting theory into practice, and this past year has been no exception. Our students have poured themselves out in missions in a number of different cities and contexts. The scene was set for the first mission (to Leeds), when more than thirty people gave their lives to Christ, at a Carol service at which Amy Orr-Ewing spoke in December. In February, half of the student team returned with Amy and Vince. In partnership with the student Christian Union, the OCCA students hosted daily lunchtime and evening talks from Amy & Vince Vitale in a marquee
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on campus. I think the words that summarized the week were, â€˜The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are cold!â€™ This was the coldest week of the year, and the students were working in a tent surrounded by snow, during the day, and sleeping on student floors at night. Yet this was an incredibly fruitful time: at least forty people professed faith during the meetings, and a further 140 asked
for follow-up. The OCCA students also spoke at various events including sport events, curry nights and dinner parties. At an international gathering, a girl from China professed faith for the first time.
In the same week, the other half of the student team remained in Oxford to be involved in the week-long
university mission there. Tim Keller spoke at lunchtimes and evenings and, after these events, our students were engaged in conversations and receptions with both undergraduates and postgraduates. Some of the OCCA students were also involved in follow-up courses, as part of their weekly practical placements, and over the subsequent months they saw a number of people come to Christ.
In late February, Tom Price and Michelle Tepper led a team of our students on a time of outreach at Oxford Brookes University, in partnership with the Christian Union. During the daytime, the students were engaged in conversations on campus, which were prompted by the worldview questionnaires they carried out and their handing out of flyers for the upcoming events. One student also gave a lunchtime talk on ‘Exploring life’s questions’. Towards the beginning of the week, the students were involved in dinner parties that CU members hosted for their non-Christian friends and, towards the end of the week, Tom and Michelle spoke both at Oxford Brookes and in local churches. At least ten students signed up for a follow-up course and a number of people came to Christ in the weeks that followed.
Around Easter, Frog Orr-Ewing led a team of five students on mission to the town of Östersund in Sweden. Frog was invited by a pastor from the EFS church, who had heard him speak, and had seen the students’ impact at the Canterbury mission, the previous
year. The team began the week preaching, prayer-walking and crying out to God for this beautiful snowy town. Opportunities to cross-country ski and walk to church across a frozen lake were not to be missed either! The team delivered apologetics training for the church, for which there was a huge hunger. Much time was also spent conducting worldview questionnaires in the town centre and university, leading to many significant conversations and opportunities to respond to questions. In just five days, the frozen lake had begun to melt, and the spiritual climate was also changing. Two people came to Christ, including an older man for whom the church had been praying for many years and whose wife was a Christian. Many Christians were also encouraged and inspired to live and share their faith with greater confidence and boldness. By the end of the week, such was the bond with the hosts that the OCCA team were serenaded at the airport and, needless to say, there were many tears.
In April, the team travelled to East London with Frog and I (with visits from Tom). The team was based at St Paul’s Shadwell, a church planted by Holy Trinity Brompton six years ago, but was also working with the recent church plants of St Peter’s Bethnal Green and All Hallows Bow. It was wonderful and challenging to be on mission in such socially and ethnically vibrant and diverse areas where, for example, bankers, families, students and artists, wealthy and deprived, Muslims and atheists, all live alongside each other.
The week began with preaching in the different churches and apologetics training. The students were spread across the three churches and, during the day, they were involved in anything from prayer-walking to questionnairing. Some ventured into pubs and coffee shops to chat, others spoke to mums at toddler groups or in Bible study groups. Some went to youth groups, dance groups and football games (including between local gang members), and others spent time talking to and praying with ex-offenders during their community service break time. Students also spoke at lunches or evening meetings in homes and cafes. On the final Sunday, the London marathon ran straight past St Paul’s, providing some great opportunities, and in the evening, Frog preached powerfully on the resurrection. Every student had multiple opportunities to share their faith, as well as to work in the community. The weather was terrible again (this time the workers were wet!), but a good number of people made pivotal progress, with several saying they wanted to follow Christ.
We thank God for all of the opportunities we at the OCCA have had to share Christ with others in 2012.
Sharon Dirckx TUTOR, OCCA Sharon Dirckx’s first book Why? God, Evil and Personal Suffering is being published by IVP in January 2013. In the book Sharon deftly interweaves the stories of people who have faced some of life’s toughest personal challenges, with a practical consideration of the difficult yet instinctive 'Why?' questions being asked about God and suffering.”
ONE STUDENT WRITES:
“It was an extraordinary privilege to spend Wednesday night talking to two women who were seriously considering accepting Jesus as Lord of their lives. At the end one of them said, ‘You know I think perhaps I should just become a Christian…maybe I already am.’ Another exciting thing was getting a couple of hours to talk with the Muslim cafe owner and share my faith with him and his sister. He asked me to explain why my faith meant so much to me, so I stayed a bit longer. The next day I went back and was able to pray with him and his sister.”
HELP US MATCH MAJOR MISSIONS GIFT A major Christian trust has recently pledged £10,000 towards the costs of our missions work in 2012-13, but we must match this generous grant before these funds will be released. Can you help us towards this target? Gifts can be made by cheque, by credit card (phone Liz on 01865 302900) or online at www.rzim.eu/supporting-us (Please specify that your donation is towards this missions gift match). Thank you.
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‘DARK SIDE’ OF CHRISTIAN HISTORY BY SIMON W ENHA M
How should believers face up to the ‘dark side’ of Christian history? Should we simply admit that the late Christopher Hitchens was right when he wrote that ‘religion poisons everything’?
The historian, John Coffey, argues that we should adopt three approaches:1 1. Confession 2. De-Mythologizing certain historical events 3. Narration
CONFESSION Firstly, Coffey argues that Christians should avoid the temptation of using the approach favoured by the political consultant Roger Stone: ‘admit nothing, deny everything, launch counter-attack’. Instead, we should be in the habit of acknowledging when we have fallen short of God’s standards and this includes apologizing for things of the past.
DE-MYTHOLOGIZING HISTORICAL EVENTS Secondly, it is important to ensure that historical myths are debunked, as there are many
misconceptions about Christianity circulating in society today, even amongst the educated. These include the idea that science and religion are at war (popularised by Draper and White), for example, or that the Enlightenment was essentially a clean secularist break from the past. Furthermore, it is important to realise that the most extreme events of the past get the most attention from scholars and this can skew our overall perception of history.
NARRATION Finally, we need to accept that humans are naturally story-tellers and we must engage, therefore, with the grand narrative told by atheists (and those of other worldviews). If we look at history, it actually seems to fit well with the idea of sin and redemption. Although believers have done all kinds of bad things (sometimes appealing to the Bible for support), we should not lose sight of the fact that the redemptive power of Christ plays a central part in the story.
1 J. Coffey, ‘Thinking Christianly about Early Modern Violence’ (‘The Dark Side of Christian History’ conference, Oxford, 5 February 2011). 3 See www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/antisemitism/.
5 J. C. Lennox, ‘If God is so great, why is there so much suffering?’ (RZIM Europe Training Day, Oxford, 23 January 2010).
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2 Meaning roughly ‘catastrophe’ or ‘destruction’.
4 Arutz Sheva, 18 July 2012 (www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/157977#.UAfvuaDMhGY).
THE HOLOCAUST: A CASE STUDY BY SIMON WENHAM It is seventy years since the Nazi party began to build its first extermination camps (1942) which would consign millions of people to death during the holocaust (or Shoah)2 and yet are we any closer today in understanding how this horrific event occurred on a ‘Christian continent’? There has recently been an increasing amount of literature blaming Christianity for what happened to the Jews. On the website of the United States Holocaust Museum, for example, it records that ‘early Christian thought… had terrible consequences for the Jews’.3 Others put it more strongly than this. In July, the Israeli lawmaker, Michael Ben Ari of the National Union Party, ripped up a copy of the New Testament he had been sent by a Christian organisation because he was enraged to receive a book in whose name he said millions of Jews were slaughtered.4 How should Christians respond to accusations such as this?
Before beginning to approach the subject, it is important to stress that it needs to be handled very sensitively. John Lennox reminds us that when we address the topic of human suffering, we need to realise how much our perspective is shaped by whether or not we have been personally affected by it.5 Furthermore, we should not lose sight of the continued personal and political sensitivities of the issues involved. Secondly, it is helpful to bear in mind that some of the terms are not always applied consistently, such as ‘antisemitism’, for example, which can be used to describe anything ranging from a disagreement or an internal prejudice to outright aggression or discrimination towards the Jews.
The first point to make is that although the church is not a single entity, many influential Christians, throughout history, were responsible for fuelling what has been termed ‘theological anti-Judaism or antisemitism’.6 The German reformation theologian Martin Luther was particularly
outspoken in his ‘On the Jews and their lies’ (1543), for example, although he had a reputation for strongly worded attacks against those he disagreed with in general. Animosity towards the Jews certainly predated the time of Jesus, but some of the criticism since was rooted in certain Christian theological emphases. The Jews were perceived as having lost their chosen status (through the new covenant), they were viewed as being responsible for rejecting Jesus (thereby causing his crucifixion) and they were blamed for the persecution of the early church. Yet it is important to stress that this was distinct from the particular strand of racial antisemitism that emerged in Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, there was a pro-Nazi ‘German Christian’ faction in the protestant church that came to prominence in the 1930s, which upheld a Völkisch theology, incorporating nationalism and a mystical perception of the German people. In 1939 the group was behind a theological institute at the University of Jena, which was set up in order to eradicate the Jewish influence on Christianity. An illustration of how far this had strayed from mainstream Christianity was its re-writing of the New Testament (a process that included removing references to the Old Testament and anything suggesting Jesus was a Jew) and the downgrading of the Old Testament.7 This did not go unopposed, however, as a group of theologians, including Karl Barth, criticised the German Christians for being heretical and their Barmen Declaration (1934) provided the foundation for the formation of the Confessing Church.8
As this suggests, the response of the church to the Nazi party was mixed. Hitler was adept at appealing to a Christian audience and he was able to portray himself as someone with a sense of providence who was divorced from some of the nastier practices associated with his party.9 Furthermore, his commitment to tackling Communism resonated with many within the church and there were clergy who remained enthusiastic supporters of him throughout the war. Hitler was most successful in gaining
6 The former being a rejection of the beliefs and the latter being hostility to the Jews, because of their religion. Hitler Myth (Oxford, 2010), pp. 107-108. (Washington, 2005), p. 61-62.
10 V. Barnett, For the Soul of the People (New York, 1992), p. 36.
13 I. Kershaw, Hitler’s Profiles in Power (Harlow, 1991), pp. 94-95.
support from some of the Protestant churches that were receptive to his nationalistic pronouncements. The Nazis tried to control religious affairs through a unified Reich Church (established in 1933)10 but this was not totally successful and those opposed to Nazi interference established the rival Confessing Church. Karl Barth later summed up this response by saying that although the church had ‘sufficient reason to be ashamed that it did not do more’, it had at least put up ‘partial resistance’ to the ‘encroachment of National Socialism’, which was more than many other groups or institutions achieved.11 Indeed, a number of the Confessing Church leaders were sent to concentration camps because of their stance, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler.
The regime’s relationship with the Catholic hierarchy was more chequered. Following agitation from the Nazi party, an official Concordat between the two sides was reached in 1933, which enabled the church to govern its own affairs in return for swearing allegiance to Hitler.12 The Nazi party closed down the Catholic political parties and its Youth League, however, and as its anti-church stance became increasingly obvious there was a ‘war of attrition reaching peaks in 1936-1937 and again in 1941.’13 Furthermore, in 1937, Pope Pius XI wrote ‘With Burning Concern’ (1937), a statement which was read out in German in every church on Palm Sunday that condemned the elevation of one race above others. Its opposition did not go unnoticed, as Sigmund Freud praised the Catholic Church for its ‘powerful defence’ against the Nazis,14 whilst Albert Einstein remarked in 1940 that:
Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom…what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.15
7 S. Herschel, The Aryan Jesus (Princeton, 2008), p. 106. 11 E. W. Lutzer, Hitler’s Cross (Chicago, 1995), p. 118.
8 Ibid., p. 4.
9 I. Kershaw, The
12 D. G. Dalin, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope
14 C. R. Terrell, Christ, Faith and the Holocaust (Bloomington, 2011), p. 118.
15 Time, 23 December 1940.
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Whilst this in no way excuses the mixed response from the church, Hitler’s rise to power cannot be understood without some reference to certain socio-economic factors. In particular, the Nazi party was able to capitalise upon the widespread unemployment and social instability caused by the great depression of the 1930s. Hitler was a hugely charismatic speaker and he was able to slowly gain support, by way of grass-roots agitation, a very effective propaganda campaign and some astute political manoeuvres, most notably his seizing of emergency powers following the Reichstag fire of 1933. The country had been humiliated by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (imposed after the First World War) and Hitler not only promised to restore law and order, but he vowed to make Germany great once again, a message that resonated with most of the electorate. We also have to take into account that the Nazis created a ‘pervading atmosphere of fear and repression’16 that discouraged many from openly criticising the regime. Nevertheless, what is perhaps most shocking is that the plight of the Jews had surprisingly little impact on public opinion. The attacks against them slowly escalated (it was not until 1941, during the war, that the ‘Final Solution’ began), but as Ian Kershaw memorably put it, ‘The road to Auschwitz was built by hate but paved with indifference.’17 Indeed, it is one of the sad facts that, on the whole, the church’s response to the persecution of the Jews was largely indifferent, as its primary focus was on matters relating to theology and self-governance. Some self-professing Christians allowed themselves to be co-opted into the Nazi agenda, but there were others who stood firm against the oppression, including Bonhoeffer who used his church contacts to help a number of Jews escape to Switzerland. The church should have done more, however, and this was acknowledged in 1945 when the Evangelical Church of Germany issued the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt. Finally, some have suggested that Hitler
was a Catholic, because of his baptism and the pro-Christian pronouncements he made from time-to-time.18 Although there are admittedly certain problems in defining religious identity (as is shown by recent surveys in the UK, which suggest that 70% of people identify themselves as ‘Christian’,19 whilst only around 10% regularly attend a place of worship),20 these suggestions are misleading and we must remember that politicians are well-known for pandering to particular audiences. We should not lose sight of the fact that most political parties are secular by nature and they tend to have vastly different beliefs and objectives to religious institutions. Indeed, to use a modern example, the right-wing British National Party (BNP) appeals in its manifesto ‘to the values of Western Christianity, as a benchmark for a decent and civilised society’. Yet the party stands for principles that clearly do not mirror the gospel, as its central argument is that the country is in an ‘unparalleled crisis’ because of problems caused by immigration and that the ‘indigenous’ population must, therefore, be protected with solutions including reviewing people’s citizenship grants (those made since 1997), repealing the Race Relations Act and encouraging the voluntary resettlement of immigrants.21
Joseph Goebbels perhaps summed up Hitler’s beliefs best when he wrote in his diary that ‘the Führer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian.’22 This is a telling remark, as Hitler regularly used religious rhetoric in his speeches and he certainly wanted to portray himself as a messianic figure.23 Yet it is clear that his ideology was far removed from Christianity and Jews were certainly not the only group he targeted in his quest to produce a strong and racially ‘pure’ nation.
CONCLUSION One of the most alarming things that the holocaust has taught us is that humans have the capacity to commit terrible acts of evil, as has been confirmed by more recent studies including Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment, which showed that ordinary people (without
16 I. Kershaw, Hitler, The Germans and the Final Solution (New York, 2008), pp. 171-2.
17 Ibid., p. 5.
(www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/22/ratzinger-enemy-humanity). 20 See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/03_04_07_tearfundchurch.pdf. 22 J. Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries 1939 – 1941 (London, 1982), p. 77.
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1. When is our theology overridden or shaped by other agendas? 2. To what extent are we ‘Christian’ and how does our faith manifest itself? 3. How do we treat those who disagree with us? 4. How aware are we of injustice and suffering and to what extent are we bothered by it? 5. When do political parties use Christianity for their own ends? 6. How can we make sure our own faith is robust?
18 For a discussion on this see Richard Dawkins’ article in the Guardian on 22 September 2010
19 See www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2043045/Modern-Britain-70-claim-Christians-1-5-gay.html. 21 Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity: British National Party General Elections Manifesto 2012.
23 Kershaw, Hitler Myth, p. 108.
25 With thanks to Matthew Kirkpatrick and Tanya Walker for commenting on the article.
strong prejudices) are willing to follow orders from an authority figure, even if it means administering a potentially fatal electric shock to another person.24 If you dismiss Christianity because of the events of the holocaust, therefore, then you have to dismiss just about everything else, as no group emerges free of criticism. There is of course an important distinction to be made between the perpetrator and the bystander, but acquiescing in the face of evil is still providing tacit support for it. Standing up against injustice can be costly, but Christians should be at the vanguard of fighting against evil and suffering and if we are not, then one has to question to what extent we are in tune with the saviour we purport to follow. Bonhoeffer was one who truly understood the cost of discipleship, as he was prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice for what he believed in. Indeed, the church’s response to Hitler reminds us that it is important to distinguish between the message and the messengers. Whilst we should praise God for those who had the courage to stand up against the Nazis, we also need to acknowledge that many failed to act appropriately. This serves as a reminder that we all need to repent when we fall short of God’s standards whether we do it (to paraphrase an Anglican prayer) in thought, word or deed, because of negligence, weakness or our own deliberate fault. The Christian message is all about forgiveness and reconciliation and this is something we all need, as much as we should be modelling it to others. We might, therefore, like to reflect on the following questions:25
24 Published in S. Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (London, 1974).
WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL? BY NAOMI ZACHAR IAS
‘What does sex-selective abortion say about humanity?’
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It was the first question Torontobased host Lorna Dueck asked me in an interview on her current events programme, ‘Context with Lorna Dueck’. A tragic issue that has significantly impacted several countries in East Asia and is growing in North America, sex-selective abortion is chosen by parents with a preference for a son, who choose to abort their baby when a sonogram reveals the mother to be carrying a daughter. India alone is said to have 2030 million ‘missing women,’ and predictions estimate that by the year 2020, China will have 40 million unmarried men, a number equal to the entire population of young men in America. As a direct result, crime rates, bride trafficking, sexual violence, and even female suicide rates are all rising. What does this say about humanity? What does it say of how far we have come, or rather how far we still have to go in the area of human rights, and specifically, respect and protection of women? The horror of this issue stayed at the forefront of my mind in the days following the interview. The next week, I somewhat nervously walked into a lecture hall at Princeton University to speak at a conference for women sponsored by the Christian Union. I was distinctly aware of the honour it was to be on this historical campus and in the presence of intelligent, capable, sincere women filled with ambition, potential, questions, and a desire to identify their specific purpose in this world. I have come across much of the data that speaks of the strength of women in society – data that conclude that in societies where men and women are treated equally, there is a lower rate of poverty and higher economic quality of life. Statistics speak to the contribution, skill, unique ability of women, and, while I
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OUR GOD WHO KNOWS HER STORY, HER FACE, HER SCARS, HER SKILLS ... know it to be true, I cannot help but wonder about the inherent danger therein, too. For should someone – male or female – have to justify worth, in order to be granted the opportunity to exist, and to have a life free of exploitation and abuse? The opportunities for Wellspring have continued to grow, both in the arena of dialogue with individuals and audiences on subjects of human trafficking, human rights, prostitution, HIV/AIDS, and global issues impacting the world today. And our primary mission to reach out to the hurting continues to call us to various geographic regions and to specific projects as we serve as a bridge between the giver and efforts that are providing aid to women and children
at risk. Though conferences on social justice and human trafficking continue to highlight a sobering global plight, the opportunities to go beyond the conference table abound. We recently received an emotional letter from Director of Bombay Teen Challenge, KK Devaraj. From Mumbai, India, he wrote to tell us they had to say goodbye to Nimmi, a young woman they had helped to escape life in a brothel. She had been sold into prostitution at the age of 13 and had eventually contracted HIV/AIDS. She had lost hope and felt she had nothing to offer. But four years ago, she left the dark world and stepped into safety at Bombay Teen Challenge where she found a home and was introduced to the grace of God and
the freedom and redemption He offers. After four years, losing Nimmi was painful, but as Devaraj wrote, we are confident we will see her again. His letter ended with a sincere plea: ‘not far from my house, the dreams of a little girl like Nimmi are being shattered… we must stop sexual slavery and stop it now. Let us free them from the chains…’
Not far from Mumbai, Zamar Academy waits for their new land and school in Chennai. Because of the generosity, care, and response from many of you, we were able to raise enough funds to purchase the property required to remain open and provide quality education free of cost to children from a local slum area. Through a diligent search and many negotiations, our team in India has patiently viewed properties and is committed to identifying land that meets the need and respects all legal requirements for the process. This has been a challenge, and we are prayerful that God will soon provide the land that will enable us to uphold this standard. The children of Zamar Academy have been overlooked, often missed by society. They do not have wealth or opportunity. They have not yet made their contribution to the community. When you see them stand with perfect posture and recite a Psalm or a poem recently assigned in Tamil class, or watch their absolute glee at learning to throw a baseball, you see the richness they hold and represent. At Agni Raksha in Bangalore, we recently sent a grant for medical supplies for surgeries and for skills training for women who are victims of bride burning. I remain deeply affected by my previous visits to this project. In recent speaking opportunities, I have been asked to address the issue of beauty. The first pictures that form in my mind as I consider this topic, are the faces of these women. Their scars are deep and highly visible. This does
not meet our cultural standard for beauty, for what is oft misunderstood to be perfection. Each one of their faces challenges our norm, and redefines our perception of beauty not in spite of the scars, but directly through them. As I consider each one of these stories, I am reminded of an email sent from a friend several months ago. His sister was valiantly battling cancer that had left her face partially paralyzed. In a photo attached, the paralysis tugged slightly at one eye and at a corner of her lovely smile. My friend’s note simply read, ‘Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?’ His words need no explanation, for every one of us understands; in those moments, every one of us instantly recognizes the certainty and centre of value and recognizes unmatched beauty as it stands before us. A woman, a person, need not strive to prove her value to family, community, or society. The battle here is not one of proving value enough, but the ultimate significance of the intrinsic value of every life created in the image of God, our God who knows her story, her face, her scars, her skills. Her need to fight to be and to survive does raise a legitimate and frightening question about humanity. And how we respond as an individual and as a community, will continue to script the answer.
23 THE MISSION Wellspring International was established in 2004 by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). A humanitarian arm of the organization, Wellspring International is an extension of the central focus of RZIM, where we live out what we preach and defend. Through a process of due diligence, the vision of Wellspring is to identify and financially equip existing organizations aiding women and children at risk, as well as to provide individual scholarships to support education, healthcare, and basic living needs.
THE METHOD Wellspring International exists to empower you to impact the lives of women and children in need around the world. One hundred percent of donations designated for Wellspring are distributed to projects overseas that we have researched and vetted. It is our privilege to aid organizations that embody four principle aspects we believe are vital to this effort: RESCUE, liberating individuals from destructive environments; REHABILITATION, offering programmes that provide treatment, and healing for physical, and emotional needs; RESTORATION, a period of respite, and renewal, that they may embrace a new hope, and freedom, claiming confidence, and independence; REENTRY, providing homes, vocational training, and job opportunities.
THE REASON Naomi Zacharias DIRECTOR, WELLSPRING INTERNATIONAL For further information about the ministry, see www.wellspringinternational.org. More stories from those helped by the ministry can be read about in Naomi Zacharias’ book, The Scent of Water.
‘RZIM is an apologetic ministry. We are here to lift the intellectual veil that casts a blinding shadow upon the eyes of the thinker…not all shadows are imagined. Some are real. The pain and suffering of people is real. Wellspring is ‘practical apologetics.’ Love is the most powerful apologetic. It is the essential component in reaching the whole person in a fragmented world. The need is vast, but it is also imperative that we be willing to follow the example of Jesus and meet the need.’ (RAVI ZACHARIAS)
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PLACES STILL AVAILABLE!
RZIM Training Day Manchester 2012 Many Christians have a desire to communicate the gospel to their non-believing friends or colleagues, but few feel well-equipped or confident to do so. It can be difficult to know how best to approach some of the strong objections that people have about faith, as even bringing up the topic can sometimes provoke a hostile reaction. What should we say, for example, to someone who does not believe in God because of the suffering and evil in the world, or to someone who argues that the Christian faith does not make any rational or philosophical sense? How do we even begin to approach the topic with someone who seems completely closed off to the gospel message?
“Tackling the Hardest Questions” is designed to help Christians communicate their faith more effectively, without having to duck the hard questions.
Book your place online Location: Parrs Wood High School, Wilmslow Road, East Didsbury, Manchester, M20 5PG. Date: Saturday 22nd September 2012, 9.00am – 4.30pm Prices: £25.00 per person, £17.50 for students/unwaged. Prices include lunch and refreshments during the day
Talks will include: “The Hardest Conversations – Recovering the art of persuasion for people who are closed”, “The Hardest Challenge – Responding to the challenge of evil” and “The Hardest Convert OS GUINNESS
– Revival in Philosophy, and why it matters”.
Further information can be found on the website
T: 01865 302900