Friday, September 22, 2006

Salaries and big charities

[Rant] The last couple of days there’s been some buzz about the salaries of the presidents of some of the larger Christian organizations.  Mike Sense started it (he works for Campus Crusade and Common Grounds Online picked up the story as well.  The data comes from the Forbes 200 Largest Charities database from 2005.

What’s interesting is that low salaries are almost automatically seen as “better” than the higher ones.  Crusade’s Steve Douglass earns $57,466, which is ever so much better than Franklin Graham’s $368,115 from Samaritan’s purse.  At CGO the author has “highlighted those who make less that $100,000 as if a six digit income is inherently more laudably than a five digit one.  Come on.

I don’t have any earthly idea whether these are high or low salaries.  I don’t do these guys jobs.  I’ve never seen their contract or their job description.  I’m thankful that in the Christian & Missionary Alliance we have a salaries committee of godly people that determine Dr. Benedict’s salary.  Good for them and good for him.

My personal opinion, for what it’s worth is that these kind of comparisons only breed envy and help people be judgmental.  I don’t mean to point fingers at either Mr. Sense or the guy from CGO but come on guys.  If you think they’re paid too much say so.  Don’t just dangle the numbers in front of people and see what happens. [/rant]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In the news: not everyone happy with new religion law

Forum 18 is reporting that while evangelicals are happy about the new law others are objecting to its apparent exclusivity.  As has been mentioned before Evangelicals were included among the five official religions communities.  This is because the evangelical church substantially predates the war.  The first Albanian evangelicals date to the 1980's while Serbian evangelicals date much earlier to 1967.  The tradition of evangelical theology, though not called "evangelical" specifically dates into the 1800's.

Whle the text of the law hasn't been released pubically, as far as I know, the text of the parliament's submission to UNMIK is here.

Pastor Aslimovski is incorrect, however, in stating that the Evangelical community is in fact Pentecostal, as indicated in his quote below.  KPEC, the evangelical community of Kosovo is a voluntary organization of protestant churches and organizations who hold to the Lausanne Covenant.  This is the only confessional/doctrinal requirement for membeship.  I wholeheartedly agree with him that the law should be clear on how religious communities get legal status.  It should not be left until later.  Only when we see the final text of the law will we really know where we are on that question.

While some Protestants are jubilant that the new religion law approved by the Kosovo Assembly on 13 July has been amended by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to specify five of the faiths by name that enjoy rights and freedoms (Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics, Jews and Evangelicals) others are critical. "If it is true that the Evangelical (Pentecostal) church is mentioned it is not right, since all should be mentioned or none," Adventist pastor Nikola Aslimovski complained to Forum 18 News Service. UNMIK promulgated the law on 24 August, but only made this public on 20 September. The law fails to tackle the highly contentious issue of how and which religious communities will get legal status. "Everything should be nailed down in one law," one religious freedom expert told Forum 18. "Nothing should ever be left vague to be returned to later."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Live from Oconto, WI

I’m here in Oconto, WI for the second day.  Oconto is a city of about 4800–5000 people north of Green Bay about an hour or so.  It’s beautifully situated on the bay itself.  One of the great things about going on tour is meeting all kinds of “average.  I put average in quotes because none of these folks are average.  God has had a plan and an agenda for each one.  He’s carried each one through difficult times, provided during times of little and blessed during times of much.


…. This morning I had breakfast with two guys.  One is retired the other still works in the maintenance department of a local paper mill.   Both were full of stories about the people they’d shared Christ with and the lives they saw changed.  Both reflected on their own lives before Christ and the things God had saved them from.

The best part was that they weren’t “primping” for the missionary.  In fact, I’m not even sure they knew I was there the whole time.  They were just telling stories about stuff God had done as if it were the most natural thing in the world….exactly how it should be.  This is the Christian & Missionary Alliance at the fundamental level; people living the Call extraordinarily in ordinary places. 

… helping the new pastor unload.  I just showed up to help and didn’t know a soul.  “I just heard a new preacher came to town and came to help unload the truck,” I said.  “Oh, okay…thanks for helping,” was the frequent reply.  Folks didn’t look at me funny or ask a lot of questions.  I think the only question that mattered was, “can he pull his weight.”  I knew I’d scored with the group when the biggest guy in the group said, “Oh wait, he’ll can help me with this heavy box” and beckoned me over to give him a hand.

… standing in the meeting room and listening to an older woman describe how God had provided throughout her life.  The far-away look in her eyes a greater expression than her words about the depth of her experience with the Lord.

… speaking to two groups of AWANA kids.  As I talked about what the life of a child was like in Kosovo one little boy raised his hand to ask a question.  I think we were talking about mosques or something.  “Do you have any poisonous snakes in Kosovo?” he asked.  No, not really.  Sorry about that.  Little boys wondering about the world around them.  What percentage of missionaries have come our of little towns and little churches…I be the number would surprise us.

…playing cards with neighbors and laughing about the normal things of everyday life.  A son’s tattoo, a injured employee, the stuff of everyday life that sometimes we miss in our really hurried lives.

This is the CMA…and I’m happy to be a part of it.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

...third time's the charm?


Bombs in Kosovo keep exploding


DTT-NET.COM)- Another bomb went off on Sunday night in Kosovo’s eastern
town of Gjilan, again targeting cars of officials from government, with
police still having no arrests made.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In the News Again...another bomb in Gjilan

I'm not sure what the deal is, but twice in two days seems a little much.  Another bomb went off in my city...actually in my neighborhood on Saturday.  My teammates report it went off about 50 meters from their apartment...rattled the dishes a little bit.  According to my team mates, the first explosion was down town, the second was behind her house, which is the reverse of the article below.

Please pray for peace and stability in Kosovo
Local Self-Government Ministry Car Damaged in Gnjilane Blast
17 September 2006 | 13:19 | FOCUS News Agency
Gnjilane. A strong explosion in Gnjilane, Kosovo, caused damage to four cars one of which belongs to the Local Self-Government Ministry of Kosovo, RTS informs citing Kosovo's police forces. No people were injured in the blast.
The spokesperson for the police Naser Ibrahimi stated the explosion took place on Saturday at around 8.30 p.m. local time. The motive behind the explosion is not yet clear, nor is it clear what type of explosion caused the material damage.
This is the second blast in Gnjilane for the last two days. During the last explosion that took place late on Thursday the car of Kosovo's Interior Minister Fatmir Rexhepi was damaged.
The police arrested two persons at the explosion site near the building in which Minister Rexhepi resides. However, because of lack of proof the two arrested persons had been involved in the attack they were released.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Checking in from Wausau

I’m now on what we call “missionary tour” in my little world and I’m up in Wausau, WI this week.  I’m here at Wausau Alliance Church having a great time connecting with Alliance people about Alliance missions.  Thursday night was my first speaking opportunity then last night we had a game night and some nice time just to hang out and connect.  This morning was a men’s breakfast where about 40 men showed up to hear about what God’s doing in Kosovo.  This evening it was a meeting with the youth.  We had a DSC04119“mystery dinner” then I shared for a few DSC04108minutes about the big questions in life before we watched “The End of the Spear,” a great movie about the four martyred missionaries in Ecuador in the 50’s and the work their families did there.

This is a great church with a heart for missions and people committed to getting the job done. 

Great stuff!


In the News in Gjilan

Caught this in the news this morning.  Gjilan (Gnilanje is the Serbian spelling) hasn't had a bomb like this in a number of years.  Oh, I had a friend who found an anti-tank mine under his car a couple of years back, but it didn't go off.

Pray for peace and stability in Kosovo!
Explosion near the house of Kosovo's Minister of Interior

Pristina /15/09/ 12:37

There was an explosion early Friday in Gnilanje near the home of Kosovo's Minister of Interior, Fatmir Rexepi, reported Kosovo police.

There were no injured in the incident, but an automobile of type Audi A4, owned by Rexepi, was damaged, alongside another vehicle parked nearby, local authorities reported.

The house of Kosovo's minister was damaged, together with surrounding houses.

The explosive device was planted under a car immediately near Rexepi's home.

So far, two suspects have been arrested, which were near the site of the explosion.

Friday, September 15, 2006

News on the Law of Religion

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’ve notice me write about the “draft law on religion” for some time.  This law would govern how religious groups conduct themselves and has been the cause of a lot of prayer for some time.  One of the key issues for us has been the status of the protestant church community within that law.  For some time it seemed that the law would only recognize the Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish faiths as the historic faiths of Kosovo.  In many ways this made sense.  Evangelical Protestantism is a relative late comer.  At the same time, not being included in this list of faiths put the evangelical church at a significant disadvantage before the law.

Yesterday I received word that the new Law on Religion had been signed into law and that the evangelical church was included as one of the “named and recognized religious communities” of Kosova.  This is fantastic and unexpected news and we’re grateful to God for it. 

Thanks for your prayers over the last couple of years about this issue.  More information will be forthcoming, but I haven’t posted in a while and thought I’d post GOOD NEWS.