A Resource for Global Christians
By Patrick Johnstone
and Jason Mandryk with Robyn Johnstone
Bethany House and WEC International
798 pages, paperback, $17.99
CD-ROM by Global Mapping
Reviewed by Elisabeth Farrell
Since 1974, Christians have used Operation World in book form not only as a prayer tool, but also for research and information on every country on the planet. Operation World is still the definitive global prayer guide, but it has become much more--now available in book form and an information-packed CD-ROM.
The book's just-released sixth edition is a hefty 798 pages. Completely revised, it features every country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Want to know how many charismatics live in Kenya? Demonic strongholds affecting Indonesia? The economics of the Maldives? It's in here.
Hundreds of on-site Christian workers compiled facts and figures, praise reports and prayer challenges for each country. Use the book as a reference tool or as a day-by-day prayer guide. Some countries such as Somalia take a day, while others such as India and China have numerous days.
For those who don't want to wade through the book, the Operation World CD-ROM (for both PC and Mac) is user-friendly and contains extensive additional data that couldn't fit in the book, including the latest country profile information and related Web links for every country. When opened, it automatically goes to the country featured for targeted prayer that day. Users can click their way around the full-color maps, charts and graphics, which can be copied and pasted for ministry use.
The software can also link users to the Operation World Web site, which has related links not found in the book. Users can also download the entire CD-ROM onto a laptop, using about 400 megabytes of disk space.
For those who are world Christians, this resource will prove to be worth its value.
Jesus vs. Jihad
By Marvin Yakos
208 pages, paperback, $11.99
Reviewed by Deborah L. Delk
The cataclysmic events of September 11 have left Americans scrambling to understand how and why any human being could inflict such pain and suffering on a multitude of innocent people. What led the Muslim terrorists to organize such an evil plot? What was their point, and what is their ambition?
Jesus vs. Jihad offers some answers during this time of crisis. Author Marvin Yakos debunks the myth that Islam is a peaceful religion and that the Quran can be compared with the Bible--a holy book meant to inspire righteous living. However, he makes a clear statement that all who call themselves Muslims are not willing to carry out the cruel creeds of this religious system and are victims themselves--people to whom we must show love and respect.
A brief history lesson reveals the character and nature of Islam's founder, Muhammad, born 600 years after the birth of Christ. With an imperfect understanding of Christianity--for instance, Muhammad thought Mary was part of the Trinity--Muhammad attempted to straighten out Christians and Jews. Quotes from the Quran call for either the enslavement or total annihilation of anyone who does not accept Muhammad's revelation. The Quran justifies murder, rape and stealing in the conquest of the world for Allah, while the Bible tells us that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus comes that we might have life.
This book was written to both inform Christians and to reach those who have been blinded by Satan. This is a crucial time to be educated on the beliefs of the terrorists committing jihad, and this book is sure to bring understanding. It will move readers to pray for and support evangelism efforts in Muslim nations and among our Muslim neighbors here in the United States.
Exposing Spiritual Abuse
By Mike Fehlauer
176 pages, paperback, $11.99
Reviewed by Pamela Robinson
If author Mike Fehlauer was warmed by sparks of controversy in February 1999 when Charisma featured his article, "Five Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse," he may expect a fire to break out now. In eight chapters, he includes seven warning signs of an unhealthy church and four major traits of an insecure, controlling leader. Each chapter concludes with questions designed to analyze the state of a church and its pastor. Indeed, he states, "The ultimate responsibility for the state of a church isn't laid at the feet of the people, but rather at the feet of the pastor"--no consolation for religious leaders who protest the people's rebellion against God today.
Fehlauer's retractors will find it hard to argue, however, with his Scripture-based reasoning. He explains that Jesus spoke harshly, not to sinners, but to religious leaders, namely the Pharisees, just as in Ezekiel's day God accused the spiritual leaders "of ignoring the needs of the people and of using their positions of authority to beat down the people of God with their own set of rules and regulations." Likewise, Fehlauer insists, "modern-day Pharisees" still create strife for the people.
In spite of his subject, Fehlauer remains positive. He sets forth seven responsibilities of a healthy, if imperfect, pastor and four responsibilities of that pastor's congregation. Perhaps more important, he encourages those trapped in an abusive system to follow nine guidelines for breaking their ties, and he promises they will find healthy churches where their inward relationship with Jesus can be nurtured.
The Missions Addiction
By David Shibley
251 pages, paperback, $13.99
Reviewed by Randall Murphree
Compassion and conviction permeate this look at the role of missions in today's global culture. In his latest book, The Missions Addiction, author David Shibley, president and founder of Global Advance, defines the need, analyzes an often apathetic church and preaches a powerful challenge. He believes this decade will see a turning point in world missions, a point from which the Great Commission will become the great completion, when entire nations will come under the influence of the gospel in record time.
Shibley's passion for missions is contagious, his heart for missionaries transparent. He narrates countless stories of martyrs and others who have sacrificed all to follow Christ to the mission field--often in the missionaries' own moving words. For example, he cites the impact of a couple who stayed in Afghanistan when all other foreigners were evacuated.
"During our first Christmas," the missionaries related, "over 50 women and their children all squeezed into our home, a little living room, to hear the advent story."
The author dares the reader to seek his role in missions, believing that all Christians are called to participate in missions at some level. Recurring themes include the need for unity in the Christian community and the necessity of adherence to Scripture. The author of 14 books, Shibley writes from experience, having ministered in 51 nations. The Missions Addiction is a valuable reference book, with hundreds of notes and index entries, a history citing centuries of missions greats and a call to action challenging believers to answer God's call.
By Teen Mania/Acquire the Fire
Reviewed by Rachel Campbell
Unshakeable, the latest album from Garden Valley, Texas-based youth missions ministry Teen Mania, offers a special brand of alternative worship for a people yearning for more of God. Focusing the Acquire the Fire youth rally tour and subsequent album on Psalm 62:1-2--"He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken" (NIV) --Teen Mania hopes to inspire thousands of young people to stand boldly for the cause of Christ, and to remind Generation Net of how God has met them in the past. This is the "sound track for the revolt against apathy, the battle cry for a generation of believers, music for a new revolution."
Unshakeable has combined new and familiar praise and worship songs with the top Christian pop performers. It features popular worship songs such as "Breathe" and Matt Redman's "Holy Moment," along with the brand new, guaranteed greats, "You Are My King," "Fill Me With Your Holiness" and the title cut, "Unshakeable."
The CD contains varied styles from the modern-day Amy Grant sounds of teen worship leader Melissa Tawlks to the revolutionary Christian rock style of SonicFlood. Nick Gonzales of Salvador and Ron Luce, head of Teen Mania, offer incredible Vineyard-style worship, while ethereal tones delivered by Superchick and Brad Olson of The Waiting are artfully combined with praise and worship that rocks.
The album also features music comparable to Delirious and pop-culture bands such as No Doubt and Sophie B. Hawkins. Teen Mania's Unshakeable is a definite buy whether you're an alternative worship enthusiast or just looking to praise God with a new, rambunctious attitude.
By Shirley Caesar
Reviewed by Michael L. Webb
No word seems to describe gospel artist Shirley Caesar better than classic. With 11 Grammys, 18 Dove awards and 13 Stellar awards under her belt, Caesar has helped set a standard for gospel music that will be followed for decades. Pastor of Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, N.C., Caesar marks her 36th release with a tribute to the classic hymns that serve as the foundation for today's Christian music.
Produced by Grammy- and Dove award-winning producer Bubba Smith along with Shirley Caesar and Michael Mathis, Hymns captures the familiar sound of The Shirley Caesar Singers along with contemporary choir New Direction. Songs such as "Steal Away," a duet with Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child, "Amazing Grace" and "Come Ye Disconsolate" maximize both Caesar's vocal talents and pastor's heart.
Worshipful cuts such as "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Blessed Assurance" are captivating, as Caesar "preaches" the songs in her trademark style. Each song has somewhat of a traditional flavor, with rich organ and piano, and strong background vocals.
In a time of national crisis, many Americans are returning to the basics--faith and family. It is refreshing to once again experience the songs of faith sung with emotion, power and conviction. For those who have followed Caesar's career and enjoyed such hits as "No Charge," "I Remember Mama" and "Hold My Mule," Hymns should fit nicely in their music collections.