A LIFETIME OF CHANGE - MARTIN LUTHER KING JR'S LASTING LEGACY
With the US about to mark Martin Luther King Jr Day, here's a graphic look at the life of the late civil rights leader... |
THE MUSLIM SOLDIER WHO BECAME THE "APOSTLE TO THE PYGMIES"
He was a Muslim soldier who fought against Christians until a Scripture verse stopped him in his tracks and set him on a new path in life.
Waswa Munubi grew up in Uganda in the late 1800s. During his youth, he was an avid marijuana smoker. In military service, he fought against Christians until he came under the influence of Alexander Mackay, a Scottish missionary with the Church Missionary Society. Challenged to read the New Testament, one verse in the Sermon on the Mount grabbed his heart in an unexpected way.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)
After he read that passage, Munubi surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and was born again. At his baptism, he took the name “Apolo,” after the eloquent Alexandrian Jewish believer who “was fervent in spirit, spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25).
MARK ELLIS, of Godreports.com, looks at the life of 19th and early 20th century Ugandan priest and evangelist, Apolo Kivebulaya... |
BIBLE TRANSLATORS SPECIAL
Miles (or Myles) Coverdale is celebrated as the first person to publish a complete Bible in English, a work known as the Coverdale Bible.
While he is believed to have been born in Coverdale, Yorkshire, in England, around 1488, nothing is known of Coverdale's parentage or early education. But it is known that he was ordained a priest at Norwich in 1514 after which he became an Augustinian friar and entered their community at Cambridge.
The prior, Robert Barnes, was sympathetic to the ideas of church reform which were then circulating – these ideas apparently had a significant role in helping to shape Coverdale’s own views, so much so, that when Barnes was tried for heresy in 1526, Coverdale assisted in his defence.
In the third of a series on Bible translators to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, DAVID ADAMS looks at the life of Miles Coverdale, translator of the first complete English Bible published in 1535... |
English scholar and outspoken church reformer William Tyndale was responsible for producing the first printed new New Testament in English.
Born in Gloucestershire in about 1494, Tyndale was educated at Oxford and, possibly, Cambridge and ordained a priest in about 1515, after which he returned to Gloucestershire to serve as a tutor to the children of a local knight. It was during this time that he was first accused of heresy after preaching at local churches and brought before authorities but, following what was reportedly a stormy meeting, no further action was taken against him.
Having the idea of translating the Greek New Testament into English – Tyndale was driven by the belief that all people should be able to read the Bible in their own language – he moved to London in 1523, hoping to garner support for his project from Cuthbert Tunstall, the Bishop of London.
In the second of a series on Bible translators to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, DAVID ADAMS recalls the life of William Tyndale... |
To mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Sight is running a special series on some of the key people on whose work the King James was to draw. First up is the English scholar and church reformer John Wycliffe (also Wyclif or Wiclif), a key advocate for translating the Bible into the common language (then Middle English) and founder of the Lollard movement.
Born in Yorkshire in the 1320s, Wycliffe – often known as the ‘Morningstar of the Reformation’ thanks to being a precursor of later reforms - is believed to have been educated initially at home after which, in around 1340, he went to Oxford.
There he obtained a Bachelor of Theology and is recorded as having been the Master of Balliol College in 1360-61 and the head of the new created Canterbury Hall in 1365-66. By 1372 he was a Doctor of Divinity and one of the most respected English philosophers and scholars.
In the first of a series looking at Bible translators, DAVID ADAMS takes a look at the life of the "Morningstar of the Reformation", John Wycliffe... |
FOR PREVIOUS SAINTS OF PAST AGES
The patron saint of Wales, St David – known in Welsh as Dewi Sant – was apparently a key figure in the Celtic church of the 6th century.
With little real evidence of the details of his life, David’s story has been the subject of much speculation with the most fulsome version of his legendary life contained in a hagiography, Life of St David, written by Rhygyfarch, son of the Bishop of St David's, in the 11th century.
David is understood to have been born sometime in the late 5th or early 6th century. The son of a prince who is said to have either seduced or raped the aristocratic St Non (who went on to become a nun), he was born on a clifftop in a violent storm (now the site of the Chapel of St Non in Pembrokeshire).
With St David's Day having just been celebrated in Wales and many other places around the world, DAVID ADAMS takes a look at the life of Wales' most famous saint... |
He’s celebrated as the knight who slew the dragon but who was the real St George? And why has he become claimed as a saint important in countries from Georgia to Hungary, Spain to England?
While there is little historic evidence surrounding details of the life of St George, St George was most certainly not the medieval knight he’s sometimes pictured as but rather is believed to have been a Roman soldier who served the Emperor Diocletian and who was eventually executed for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
Tradition suggests that George was born sometime between 275-281 AD in Anatolia or Cappadocia in what is modern Turkey.
The story goes that following the death of his Christian parents – his father was a Roman official or military officer and his mother was apparently from Lydda in Palestine (where some versions say she took him to live after his father’s death), he went to the imperial city of Nicodemia where he presented himself to the Emperor Diocletian and, thanks to his father’s good service, was welcomed into the army.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the life of St George... |
SCOTTISH MISSIONARY JANE HAINING
Scottish missionary Jane Haining, killed by Nazis during World War II because she refused to abandon 400 mainly Jewish orphans under her care, was honored in Hungary earlier this month.
Haining was deported from the Scottish Mission School in Budapest and eventually killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 at the age of 47.
"If these children needed me in the sunshine, how much they will need me now, when it is dark," Israeli Ambassador Aliza Bin-Noun reportedly quoted her as saying at the time.
The diplomat was one of several foreign representatives at Wednesday's gathering at a Scottish church in the Hungarian capital honoring the farmer's daughter from the Scottish village of Dunscore. Bin-Noun said it was crucial "to keep the memories alive at a time when anti-Semitism is re-awakening."
DAVID ADAMS and STEFAN J BOS recall the life of Jane Haining... |
FATHER DAMIEN - "APOSTLE TO THE LEPERS"
Jozef de Veuster, better known as Father Damien, dedicated his life to helping lepers, spending 16 years living among them on a Hawaiian island until he eventually died of the same disease.
Father Damien, among five new ‘saints’ canonised by Pope Benedict XVI this month, was born on 3rd January, 1840, the seventh child of a Flemish farmer-merchant in the village of Tremelo, Belgium.
He attended college at Braine-le-Comte and then took his first vows as a novice in Leuven in 1859, taking the name of Brother Damianus (Damien in French). Following in his brother Auguste’s footsteps, he became joined the Society of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus Brothers) in 1860 and, despite concerns over his lack of education, was allowed to work towards becoming a priest
DAVID ADAMS takes a look at the life of Father Damien... |
JOHN CALVIN, 500 YEARS LATER - CALVIN'S FINAL YEARS
Things did settle down eventually in Geneva. As the years passed, Calvin was more and more successful in settling opposition and changing the city. Calvin and his ways were soon embraced by the majority. His latter years were less troublesome, and he was well respected in the city, and abroad.
Geneva did change in character and tone. By the time of Calvin's death, the city that had once been known as one of the most immoral in Europe now had the reputation of being one of the most godly, as Roland Bainton records in his text The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century: “There were penalties for having your fortune told by gypsies, for laughing during preaching, for making a noise in church, for passing tobacco during the service, for settling a bet on Sunday, for inability to recite prayers. Taverns were abolished and abbeys converted into hostels where no drinks were served on Sundays...”
In the last of a five part series on John Calvin, JIM REIHER examines the legacy John Calvin left behind... |
PART ONE: BEGINNINGS
If you had to list the greatest 20 books ever written in the world, what would you include on that list? If “greatest” means those that most impacted the world in significant and tangible ways, we might want to list: Plato; Aristotle; Augustine; Copernicus; Newton; Shakespeare; Darwin; Marx; Freud; and others. But would we remember to add a book that came from the pen of a 26-year-old religious thinker named John Calvin?
In the first of a five part series on John Calvin, JIM REIHER takes a look at Calvin's early life... |
PART TWO: CALVIN IN GENEVA
Geneva had already become a Protestant city before Calvin arrived. The city was run by three councils that were interconnected, and the councils were in recent times dominated by Protestants. Roman Catholic priests were no longer to say Mass after a council ruling in May 1535.
In part two of a five part series on John Calvin, JIM REIHER takes a look at Calvin's relationship with the city of Geneva... |
PART THREE: CALVIN'S TEACHINGS
To summarise the teaching of so prolific a writer and so deep a thinker, is a daunting task. It would be like reducing a mountain to a few of its most prominent rocky features. But that much we can at least do.
Calvin believed in the Bible. He saw it as the words of God. It was not speculation or wisdom of spiritual men.
In part three of a five part series on John Calvin, JIM REIHER examines some of Calvin's teachings... |
PART FOUR: CONTROVERSY AND EXECUTIONS
And he got caught up in some very controversial events. His desire to implement proper church discipline and strict morals on the people of Geneva led to numerous headaches. Some people embraced his changes enthusiastically, while others resisted them at every turn. Some people moved to Geneva to live in a better city - a moral city. Others left.
In part four of a five part series on John Calvin, JIM REIHER examines some of the controversies Calvin was involved with, in particular the execution of heretic Michael Servetus... |
GEORGE MULLER - A LIFE CHARACTERISED BY "BELIEVING PRAYER"
One of my heroes of faith is George Muller (1805-1898). One day he looked down the streets of Bristol in England and saw hundreds of homeless children. He was so moved with compassion for them, he knew that something had to be done. Although he only had a few pence in his pocket he decided to start an orphanage. Over 60 years, George Muller took care of over 10,024 orphans.
George Muller started many orphanages without ever making requests for financial support, nor did he ever get into debt. (I must confess that is a challenge to us at Philo and to all our associates!). He simply trusted God to do the work and keep it going. On more than one occasion God provided in a miraculous way. Once they had no food to feed the orphans and yet George gathered all the orphans around the table and began to thank the Lord for the food. At the end of the prayer, he said, “Amen”, and that’s when they heard a knock at the door. A truck with milk and food had broken down on the road and all the milk and food was going to go off, so the driver gave it to the orphans. Do we have that kind of faith, where we can take all our problems and trust to the Lord and ask Him to take care of them? When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller’s reply was, “Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming.”
J JOHN takes a look at the extraordinary life of George Muller... |
Beautiful and complex, Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, drifts in and out of the Scriptures with the result that we know little about her.
However, the Gospels describe Mary as a witness to Jesus’ most significant moments, including His first visits to the Temple in Jerusalem, His first miracle at the Cana wedding, His death, and beyond to Pentecost.
Since Pentecost, Mary has been raised to the - often contested on the basis it's Biblically-unsound - status of "Queen of Heaven", born without original sin, a virgin throughout her life, assumed body and soul into heaven, and an ever-holy mediator between mankind and God.
Other Christians view Mary as simply a humble servant of the Lord who cared for His son throughout His life.
So is Mary a heavenly mystery beyond our understanding or a believable reality we can learn from?
Every Christmas we celebrate the life of Mary in countless nativity scenes. Yet, for many, the mother of Christ remains something of a mystery. In an article first published in Christian Woman magazine, CHARLOTTE DURUT takes a look at what Mary's life can teach us ... |
by God at the age of just 16 to preach the Gospel of Christ,
Charles Spurgeon rose to be recognised as one of the most
dynamic and popular preachers of the Victorian era.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born at Kelvedon in Essex,
England, in 1834. The son and grandson of independent ministers,
Spurgeon grew up against the backdrop of the Nonconformist
Tradition. In 1850, Spurgeon stepped into a Methodist church
to seek shelter from the cold and a preacher challenged the
15-year-old to read a text from the book of Isaiah. On leaving
the church, Spurgeon experienced the reality of God’s
grace and subsequently was converted to Christ. On being baptised,
he joined the Baptist church and almost a year after his conversion,
he first preached the Gospel at Teversham, and regularly preached
at a congregation at Waterbeach.
Not yet aged 20, Spurgeon became pastor of New Park
Street Chapel, Southwark in London. With a growing congregation,
he was forced to preach at Exeter Hall while renovations to
enlarge the church took place. He went on to preach at the
hired Surrey Gardens Music Hall to further cater for the large
crowds - a move which drew criticism from people who felt
the secular activities the building was utilised for was hardly
conducive to the conducting of a church service.
TONY TOWNSEND takes a look at the life of English preacher
Charles Spurgeon... | more...|
life of John Newton, wretched sinner that he was, clearly
demonstrates that no matter how deep in sin you have gone
so far, God’s grace is still so far greater. God’s
Amazing Grace is all sufficient regardless of whosoever you
are in this world and whatsoever you’ve done with your
Newton, an only child of John Snr. and
Elizabeth Newton, was born on 24th July, 1725, in London,
England. Thirteen days before his seventh birthday, his devout
mother died of tuberculosis. His father, a commander in the
Mediterranean trade, remarried the following year. At the
age of 11, the young boy was taken on his maiden sea voyage.
Over the next seven years he made several more trips.
At the age of 18, Newton
- a confused adolescent - was press-ganged on board HMS Harwich,
a man-of-war. Unable to hold up under its rigid discipline
and unwilling to handle its daily routine, the defiant sailor
deserted ship. He was sought and found, stripped and flogged.
Filled with bitter rage and full of black despair, the demoted
midshipman was eventually discharged from the British Royal
Navy and dispatched onto a slave trading ship.
Ahead of the
release of Amazing Grace - a new film celebrating
the life of Englishman William Wilberforce and his campaign
to abolish slavery, PETER RAHME takes a look at the life of
one of the men who helped to empower Wilberforce, John Newton,
in this, the bicentenary of his death...
GREGORY THE GREAT
the backdrop of a tumultuous time, which saw barbarians conquer
the seemingly invincible Roman Empire, emerged Pope Gregory
the Great, a man who, according to church historian Bruce
Shelly, was an “unlikely candidate for greatness”
yet is seen by some as ushering in the start of the Middle
Gregory was born around 540 AD into a family
characterised by its wealth, imperial service and religious
piety. He boasted a papal ancestry - not only was his great-great
grandfather Pope Felix III, Gregory was also related to Pope
Seeking a career in the public service,
Gregory rose to become the mayor of Rome by the age of 30.
His time in public service, however, proved short with Gregory
resigning and pursuing a call as a monk. His inherited wealth
lent itself to him establishing seven monasteries as well
as financing the needs of the poor.
TONY TOWNSEND takes a look at the life of one history's most
influential popes, Gregory the Great...
J. SEYMOUR: PART 1
Angeles’ Azusa Street Revival, which celebrated its
100th anniversary in April 2006, is recognised as one of the
key events which gave rise to the Pentecostal Movement at
the beginning of the twentieth century. The revival would
go on to have global ramifications for the Christian church.
The outstanding figure of this revival was William J. Seymour,
seen as one of the most influential and respected early Pentecostal
Raised in an environment of
poverty, Seymour was an African American born to former slaves
in Louisiana, United States, in 1870. Dr Larry Martin, of
River of Revival Ministries, describes the abject poverty
of the Seymour family, noting that in 1896 "the family’s
possessions were listed as one old bedstead, one old chair
and one old mattress”, and going on to say that Seymour’s
mother’s personal possessions were worth no more than
about fifty cents.
the first of a two-part special on the Azusa Street Revival,
TONY TOWNSEND looks at what is known of the early life of
one it's key figures, William J. Seymour...
J. SEYMOUR: PART 2
spiritual soil was already being prepared prior to William
J. Seymour’s arrival in Los Angeles on 22nd February,
1906, with a thirst and hunger for a spiritual awakening very
evident at the turn of the 20th century. The Azusa Street
Centennial website quotes Frank Bartleman, a man who had sought
after this spiritual awakening.
Bartleman writes: “It would be a
great mistake to attempt to attribute the Pentecostal beginning
in Los Angeles to any one man, either in prayer or in preaching...‘Pentecost’
did not drop suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large
measure for a long time before the final outpouring.”
Reports coming back from the Welsh Revival
(1904-06) had proved a major inspiration for prayer meetings
to be birthed within Los Angeles with the view of seeing a
similar move of God. Church history professor Cecil Robeck
cites the response of one Baptist pastor, Joseph Smale, who
returned from Wales. According to Robeck, Smale said that
“upon returning from Los Angeles he began to preach
a message that encouraged people to be open to the work of
the Holy Spirit", adding that Seymour "organised
his church into smaller home prayer groups and began a series
of meetings for fifteen weeks".
In the second
of a two-part special on the Azusa Street Revival, TONY TOWNSEND
looks at William J. Seymour's role in the Azusa Street Revival
and its wider impact...
Magdalene is one of a number of Marys who are attested to
following and supporting Jesus in His ministry, as recorded
in the New Testament. The name “Magdalene” seems
to find its origin from the town Magdala (meaning “Tower”)
located in the region of Galilee.
There about nine references made about
Mary by the four Gospel writers with the majority of these
references centring around both the crucifixion and resurrection
accounts (see Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40, Luke 24:10, John
Luke is the only author to make mention
of her outside the context of these significant events in
where reference is made to her being delivered from demonic
possession (see Luke 8:1-3).
TOWNSEND takes a look at what we know of the real Mary Magdalene...
as an outstanding Biblical scholar of his time, the influence
of Jerome’s writings can still be felt in much of the
Western church today.
Born in the Italian town of Stridon in
340, Jerome’s parents were wealthy Catholics and he
was sent to Rome for his higher education, embracing the works
of classical Latin authors.
With a love for travel, Jerome journeyed
through Gaul (modern France) where he converted to an ascetic
form of Christianity (which includes an approach of extreme
self-denial) and lived in an ascetic community at Aquilia
in Italy. It was here that Jerome would have a life changing
TOWNSEND on a man who dedicated much of his life to Bible
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
year 1955 heralded a defining moment in the civil rights movement,
and in King’s own life, when African-American Rosa Parks
refused to move to the black section of the racially segregated
bus and was taken into custody.
In response, King initiated
a bus boycott which lasted a staggering 381 days. His actions
proved successful, resulting in the de-segregation of buses.
The incident launched King onto the national and international
stage as a key figure in the push for social justice.
TOWNSEND recalls the life of a man who became renowned around
the world as a champion of civil rights...
he was just 15, Nikolaus von Zinzendorf and school friends
made a solemn promise that they would seize every opportunity
to confess Christ and seek the conversion of all people no
matter what their background in life was. But his family did
not want him to become a missionary, instead desiring that
he enter the service of the government. In obedience to their
wishes, Zinzendorf studied law for three years (1716-1719)
at the University of Wittenberg and entered the service of
the Government of Saxony.
A defining moment for Zinzendorf came in
1719 while he was on a trip through Europe. He was moved by
a painting showing Christ wearing a crown of thorns in an
art gallery at Dusseldorf. Written on the inscription was:
“This is what I did for you. What do you do for me?”.
The painting and its inscription made a lasting and profound
impact on Zinzendorf and it was following that experience
that he offered himself for Christ’s service instead
of service to the state.
TONY TOWNSEND writes of the life of the
founder of the Moravian Church...| more...|
TOWNSEND takes a look at the life of the theologian Tertullian
whose influence reaches down the ages to us today... |
TOWNSEND explores the story of St Valentine...
TOWNSEND looks at the life of William Wilberforce... |
ADAMS reports that there's more to the life of St Patrick
than simply being patron saint of all things Irish...