Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dump Soda for your health!

Soda pop ("liquid candy") is clearly linked to worsening childhood and adult obesity, as well as diabetes, trends. Now consumer groups on 5 continents are confronting the problem head on, with the "Dump Soda" campaign, launched in Sydney, Australia in October 2007.
The "Dump Soda" campaign includes:
1. Ask governments to require soda pop producers to stop advertising geared to children under 16 years old.
2. Ask government to tax soft drinks to fund fitness and nutrition programs.
3. Stop the sales of sweetened beverages in school.
4. Reduce portion sizes of soft drinks.
5. Push soft drink producers to market lower-sugar products.
Since "diet" sodas, containing sugar substitutes, have been linked to the Metabolic Syndrome (or "Syndrome X"-a pre-diabetic condition, which has risk to the heart), I would question number 5 above if it really means marketing more drinks containing sugar substitutes.
For more information on this campaign go to:

Reference: World Watch (magazine), March/April 2008 issue.

The Bible in Africa

How do Christians in Africa and the global South view Scripture. Philip Jenkins in The New Faces of Christianity writes: "For the growing churches of the global South, the Bible speaks to everyday, real-world issues of poverty and debt, famine and urban crisis, racial and gender oppression, state brutality and persecution."
These African Christians tend to be theologically conservative. They as a whole: 1. take Scripture literally, 2. venerate the Old, as much as the New, Testament, 3. have a high view of the Bible's authority, especially on moral issue, and 4. emphasize the supernatural, including miracles, healings, and visions, in the Bible.
Supernatural warfare is at the "heart of living Christianity."


Barrett, Tony and Todd Johnson, World Christian Trends, Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2001.

Bosch, David, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shift Shifts in Theology of Missions, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1991.

Christianity Today, July 2007, cover: "Health and Wealth in Africa, lead article p.23ff: "Gospel Riches."

Jenkins, Philip, The New Faces of Christianity, Oxford University Press, 2006.

Jenkins, Philip, The Next Christiandom, the Coming of Global Christianity, Oxford University Press, 2001, 798pp.

Taylor, David, "Operation World 2001-Reveals Global Trends," Mission Frontiers (December 2001).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Africa in the News-Part II

These articles about Africa, in the recent secular press, I found at our local public library. Daily newspapers were excluded.

National Geographic, April 2008, cover title- "Africa's Ragged Edge: Journey into the Sahel," p. 34ff "Lost in the Sahel: Along Africa's harsh frontier between desert and forest, crossing some lines can be fatal" by Paul Salopeh, Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent with the Chicago Tribune, photos by Pascal Maitre. Quote on p. 48: "Women have been singled out for maximum violence in Darfur. Mass rapes by the Janjaweed have been documented. Women have been burned alive." This is an well-written feature story, with great photograghy.

The Atlantic, March 2008, , . Feature story p. 40ff "God's Country: Muslims and Christians in Nigeria", by Eliza Griswold, photos by Seamus Murphy, Quotes: "Nigerians have seen that Sharia has not stanched corruption. In fact, many of the politicians who backed sharia have been linked to massive scandals." "Thanks to explosive growth in Africa, Christianity's demographic and geographic center will have moved, by 2050, to northern Nigeria." "Using militias and marketing strategies, Christianity and Islam are competing for believers by promising Nigerians prosperity in this world as well as salvation in the next." "In 2006, riots triggered by Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed left more people dead in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world." "As Barbara Cooper, the author of Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel , puts it, " 'Faith matters.' "

The Nation, October 22, 2007, "The Fight to Save Congo's Forests," by Christian Parenti, research support from the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. Quotes: "The real power behind the throne in Congo is the World Bank, the single largest lender to this hugely indebted government." "First come the roads, and companies take a few hardwoods; then come poachers, settlers and agro firms, and deforestation picks up speed." "If the vast and isolated forests of the Congo Basin-the second-largest tropical woodlands on the planet- had a capital, it would be this sleepy city [Kisangani] of crumbling colonial era buildings and empty boulevards." Kisangi is a small town in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) 1300 miles from the mouth of the Congo River, where river navigation ends, and where there are no longer has any driveable roads to the the outside world. It was previously Stanleyville, a trading post, under the Belgian colonialists. Joseph Conrad used it as a model for Kurtz's interior station in the novel, the Heart of Darkness.

Newsweek, April 21, 2008, "Diemmas of the Horn: Washington wanted to keep Somalia from turning into another Afganistan. Now it's an African Iraq," by Scott Johnson. Quotes: "Some 600,000 have fled the country in the past year, and 750,000 are now trapped in squalid camps for the internally displaced." "A recent U.N. report declared Somalia's humanitarian crisis to be the worst in Africa." "...the violence in Somalia is increasingly random and getting worse."

Time, May 12, 2008, "Time 100 - Builders and Titans" has these 3 stories of importance to Africa: 1. "Alexis Sinduhije. A Burundi journalist risks his life to heal his nation's ethnic wounds," by Christiane Amanpour. Quote: "In 2001, Burundian journalist Alexis Sinduhije founded Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) as a means of fostering peace between the Tutsi and the Hutu in his war-torn country." Over 3000,000 died in Burundi in the civil war between the 2 groups in the mid-1990's. Sinduhije is a Tutsi who adopted a Hutu war orphan. 2. "Mo Ibrahim. How Africa's cell-phone king became a leading voice for democracy," by William Easterly. When Ibrahim sold Celtel in 2005 there were more than 100 million cell phones in Africa, compared to 2 million in 1998, when he started the company. Quotes: "While doing business in Africa, he recognized two other essential but unmet needs: good governance and accountable instutions." "The inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which rewards respect for democratic institutions, went to former President of Mozambique Joaquin Chissano last year." 3. "Mia Farrow. The Actress forced the world to pay attention to the killings in Darfur," by Paul Ruseabagina, who, himself, helped save 1,268 Rwandans at his hotel during the genocide. Quote: "For her work on behalf of these people, for her many years of hard work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, for her efforts to get China and the rest of the world to stop supporting the government of Sudan and to pay attention to the genocide in Darfur, I salute her."

Newsweek, May 12, 2008, "Something to Shout About: Africa needed hearing aids. Howard Weinstein got a chance to start over." This retired Canadian business executive is now providing affordable solar-powered hearing aids to partially deaf Africans, from a nonprofit business set up in Otse, Botswana, a town of 3,500 at the edge of the Kalahari desert. Quotes: "The World Health Organization says there are 250 million hearing-impaired people around the globe, with two thirds of them living in developing nations. And yet every year fewer than 10 million are manufactured." " 'Poor people in Africa, Latin America and Asia wear a hearing device until it runs down and then put it in the drawer or sell it', Weistein says. 'If you could come up with a solution, you could touch millions of lives.' " "Today the once empty room in the African semidesert has become the hub of a thriving nonprofit business. Some 20,000 people in 30 countries are using SolarAid brand hearing aids, chargers and batteries."

Time, March 3, 2008, "The Healer: On assignment for Time, musician and humanitarian Bob Geldof reports on the presidential trip to Africa-and why the Continent's rebirth is the Bush Administration's greatest achievement." "The great unacknowledged story of America in Africa didn't immediately originate with this President. But it was accelerated hugely by him, increased by him, argued by him and monitored by him." "A continent growing economically at more than 5% per annum, with 23 or so democratic-ish countries south of the Sahara." "Africa is the only continent yet to be built. It's a continent of 900 million potential producers and consumers. There are more languages and cultural diversity in Africa than almost anywhere else."

Current History, May 2008, "The US and Africa: Prisoners of a Paradigm?", by Greg Mills, head of Brenthurst Foundation and advisor to the president of Rwanda, p.225-230. Quotes: "Africa needs more investment and economic growth. It needs less theater and, certainly no more pity." "The Bush administration arguably has been the most generous ever in Washington, in terms of policy toward, trade with, and aid to Africa." Also see the Current History, Africa issue, May 2007.

Current History: A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs, Africa issue, April 2008, "Africa's Religious Resurgence and the Politics of Good and Evil," by Stephen Ellis and Gerrie Ter Haar, authors of Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa, Oxford University Press, 2004. "African politicians typically pay great regard to the spirit world as a source of power. Many cultivate diviners and marabouts to enhance their authority." "It is quite common in Africa to engage in practices from various religious traditions simultaneously." "Many Africans use a spirit idiom to express dissatisfaction with poor governance." "At a time when 'developement'-the notion that bureaucratic, seular government will lead to unprecedented prosperity-has for many lost its appeal, religion provides alternative ways of organizing society and politics and of thinking about the world."

Related articles, in which only portions of the stories are about Africa:

Current History, January 2008, Global Progress Report, 2008, p. 11ff, "Developement: Halfway there" In the year 2000, 192 coutries set up the Millenium Developement Goals to improve the lives of the world's poorest people by the year 2015. This is mainly a report, at the half way point, based on a UN update of the uneven results. The proportion of people in extreme poverty has fallen from a third, to under a fifth of the world, between 1990 and 2004, most dramatically in Asia. Quotes: " long as farmers in the Sahel are dependent solely on rainfall for the success of their crops, they stand forever on the edge of starvation." "If Africa uses this potential properly, parts of the continent will develope into legitimate emerging markets and will receive large inflows of private capital." "US poicy makers rightly regard the Darfur region of Sudan as a humanitarian disaster, and they also view it in geopolitical terms... This means they never get to the crux of the problem. In Darfur and places like it, people are struggling over scarce pastureland and cropland and especially over water."

U.S. News & World Report,, May 19, 2008. Cover Story: "Fixing the Food Crisis: There are as many potential solutions to the price hikes as causes of them, and none will come easily," by Maianne Lavelle and Kent Garber, and related stories by Matt Bandyk, Kirk Shinkle, and Nancy Shute, p. 36-42. Potential actions discussed: 1. Take a pause on biofuels 2. Improve food aid 3. Produce higher yields 4. Grow better crops 5. Curb the speculators 6. Break down trade barriers 7. Eat less meat 8. Share the crowded planet. Quotes: "Rural financing programs have allowed small farmers to support themselves." "In Malawi in 2006 and 2007... vouchers for fertilizers helped increase production 50%." "Food shortages and sharply rising prices have sparked riots in underdeveloped countries. Global grain stocks are at their lowest levels in decades, and the price of rice has risen 70 percent in the past year." Sites referred to for further information: , , , , , .

Newsweek, October 1, 2007, , "Giving Globally: The Search for Solutions", p. 51-76. Includes main article, "A Shot of Hope", by Mary Carmichael, with illustrations, charts, and graphs, as well as shorter articles: "Cool, Clear Water," by Christian Caryl; "A Reward for Good Behavior: A billionaire wants to give $5 million to African leaders who rule responsibly," by Emily Flynn Vencat; and "Saving the World is Within Our Grasp: The evidence is in: we can stop diseases like malaria and TB fron killing millions of people each year," by Bill Gates. Gates also lists a few of the groups that are making a difference:
Global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria:
Save the Children:
Nothing But Nets:
Doctors Without Borders :
GAVI Alliance:

Time, March 24, 2008,, "10 Ideas That are Changing the World," by Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, taken from his new book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, Penguin Press. He is also author of The End of Poverty. Quotes: "Ahmed Mohammed. A native Kenyan and a scientist, he is a leader of sustainable developement in Kenya's drylands." "The defining challenge of the 21st century will be to face the reality that humanity shares a common fate on a crowded planet." "Sustainable developement will not break the bank. The key is to make the right choices in our public investments and to find ways to harness, and channel market forces."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Africa in the News: a summary of articles about Africa in the recent print media

Here is what I found at our local library, concerning the topic of Africa, in the print media of 2006, 2007 and 2008. Ours is a public library in a city of 50,000 people. I searched both Christian and secular print magazines, journals, and periodicals, both scholarly and popular media, but not daily newspapers:

In Christian- oriented magazines:

Christianity Today, July 2007, Cover: "Health and Wealth in Africa: How the prosperity gospel is taking a continent by storm." "Gospel Riches: Africa's rapid embrace of prosperity Pentecostalism provokes concern and hope," by Isaac Phiri and Joe Maxwell, p. 23 ff. A few quotes in this article:
"Break loose! It is not a sin to desire to be wealthy."-Michael Okonkwo
"Nigerian prophet T.B. Joshua teaches that Jesus death provides both salvation and divine healing."
"The kingdom of God is built on the cross, not on bread and butter."-David Oginde
"In Zambia, only 3 stations click in: MUVITZ, ZNBC, and TBN."

National Catholic Reporter: The Independent Newsweekly, March 30, 2007, Cover: "The Church in Nigeria: Explosive growth, grinding poverty, and a mix of Catholic and African
traditions." "The face of Catholicism's future: strong parishes, booming vocations mark young church," by John L Allen, Jr., Abuja/Kaduna, Nigeria. A few quotes:
"The Nigerian church must be examined critically, because powerful currents of history are about to thrust it into a leadership position."
"It seems the hour of Africa has come."-Ecclesia in Africa, Pope John Paul II, 1995.

America: The National Catholic Weekly, Nov 19, 2007. Cover: "Will Darfur Dance Again: A first- person account," p.9-11, by John H. Ricard, Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola- Tallahassee, Florida. Has insert article, "Darfur's Humanitarian Crisis," which contains a small map.

Christian Century, October 2, 2007, p. 20-23, "Waiting in Darfur," text and photographs by Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist missionary. Has 12 good photographs of Darfur crisis region.

Christianity Today, March 2007, p. 39 " Inerview by Sheryl Henderson Blunt of Grace Akallo, kidnapped by The Lord's Resistance Army from St. Mary's College in Aboke, northern Uganda 1996-7. She escaped after 7 months and is now a student at Gordon College. She spoke, later, after the interview, to 700 people at the "Peace Within Reach" gathering in Washington, D.C. and received a standing ovation. Other related articles in this issue of CT are listed below, under other articles of related interest.

Charisma, July 2006, p.37-41, "Miracle: Amid war and persecution, Christians are experiencing a revival in Uganda that is marked by church growth, an unprecedented drop in AIDS prevalence and a changing political landscape," by Kyalo Nguku, a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya, who travelled to Uganda in January 2006 to write the story. Has photos. An insert story, "Healing the Wounds of War: Christians are helping the people of Uganda recover from a 20-year conflict," by Blake Farrington. Quotes in main article:
"Amid war and persecution, Christians are experiencing a revival in Uganda that is marked by church growth, an unprecedented drop in AIDS prevalence and a changing political landscape."
"Uganda pastor Jackson Senyonga says oppression has drawn his nation to God."

Articles of interest but not strictly about Africa:

National Catholic Reporter, May 2, 2008: "Food Riots underscore 'tsunami of need': experts address global crisis at conference in Kansas City." Has map of world featuring 37 countries, under caption, "Rising Prices threaten famine-37 countries in urgent need of food aid." African countries included are: Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania. Thus, 21 out of the 37 countries in urgent need of food aid are in Africa.

Sojourners Magazine, March 2007, p. 12-18, "Cry Freedom: The Modern Global Slave Trade and those who fight it," by David Batstone, with 2 photos. Quotes:
"Widespread poverty and social inequality ensure a pool of recruits as deep as the ocean."
"The commerce in human beings today rivals drug trafficing and the illegal arms trade for the top criminal activity on the planet."

Christian Century, November 27, 2007, p. 22-26 "Sold into slavery: The scourge of human trafficking," by Jonathan Tran, professor at Baylor University. Quote: "Some 87 percent of international trafficing involves women and children who are forced into prostitution."

Christianity Today, March 2007, p. 30 ff, "Free at Last: How Christians world wide are sabotaging the modern slave trade," by Dean Alford. Additional articles, "Amazing Abolitionist: Amazing Grace shows Wilberforce in Action", by Mark Loring, "Most people who are trafficked into the United States we know nothing about", by Kevin Bales, and "On a Justice Mission: The Christian Vision Project", by Gary Haugen.

Part II of this blog will list recent stories about Africa from the secular press, again excluding print media of daily nature (daily newspapers).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Model Prayers For World Christians

These are some of my favorite mission oriented prayers for "world Christians."They are prayers for God's kingdom work to be accomplished. These prayers are taken from the Bible, the early church, missionaries, and the Book of Common Prayer:

Also when a foreigner who is not of Thy people Israel but comes from a distant country because of Thy great name and Thy strong hand and Thine outstretched arm, who shall come and pray toward this house, hear Thou from heaven, Thy dwelling place, and do Thou according to all which the stranger shall request of Thee, so that all people of the earth may know Thy name and revere Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may realize that this house which I have built is called by Thy name. --II Chronicles 6:32-33 (Solomon's prayer, The Modern Language Bible: The New Berkeley Version)

Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.--Psalm 18:49 (David's prayer, KJV)

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. --Psalm 22:27 (David's prayer, NASB)

May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise you , O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Let the whole world sing for joy, because you govern the nations with justice and guide the people of the whole world. May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you.--Psalm 67:2-5 (New Living Translation)

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. -- Isaiah 6;8 (Isaiah's response to God, KJV)

Now, Master, thou canst let thy servant go, and go in peace, as thou didst promise; for mine eyes have seen thy saving power, which thou hast prepared for all peoples, to be a light of revelation for the Gentiles, and a glory to thy people Israel. --Luke 2:29-32 (Simeon's prayer, The Moffatt Bible)

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee they only true God, as Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do... As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me... And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. -- portions of Jesus' prayer to His Father taken from John 17 (KJV)

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. --Ephesians 3:20-21 (Paul's prayer, NASB)

Remember, O Lord, all who in heathen lands are under instruction for Holy Baptism; have mercy upon them and confirm them in the faith; remove all the remains of idolatry and superstition from their hearts, that being devoted to Thy law, Thy precepts, Thy fear, Thy truths, and Thy commandments, they may grow to a firm knowledge of the word in which they have been instructed, and may be found worthy to be made an habitation of the Holy Ghost, by the laver of regeneration, for the remission of their sins through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--St. Basil the Great (ca. 329-379)

Remember, O Lord, this city wherein we dwell and every other city and country, and all the faithful who dwell in them. Remember, O Lord, all who travel by land or water, all that labor under sickness or slavery; remember them for health and safety. Remember, O Lord, those in Thy Holy Church who bring forth good fruit, are rich in good works and forget not the poor. Grant unto us all Thy mercy and loving-kindness, and grant that we may with one mouth and one heart praise and glorify Thy great and glorious name, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now, henceforth, and forever. Amen. --St John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407)

O Lord, our Savior, who hast warned us that thou wilt require much of those to whom much is given; grant that we whose lot is cast in so goodly a heritage may strive together the more abundantly to extend to others what we so richly enjoy; and as we have entered into the labours of other men so to labour that in their turn other men may enter into ours, to the fulfillment of Thy holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. --St Augustine of Hippo (ca. 354-430)

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favourably on Thy whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; and by the tranquil operation of Thy perpetual providence, carry out the work of man's salvation; let the whole world feel and see that things that were cast down are being raised up, that those which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are returning to perfection; through Him from Whom they took their origin, even Jesus Christ Thy son our Lord. Amen. --Gelasian Sacramentary, Fifth Century.

In evening prayer God was pleased to draw near my soul, though very sinful and unworthy: was enabled to wrestle with God, and persevere in my requests for grace. I poured out my soul for all the world, friends, and enemies. My soul was concerned, not so much for souls as such, but rather for Christ's kingdom, that it might appear in the world, that God might be known to be God in the whole earth...Let the truth of God appear, wherever it is; and God have the glory for ever. Amen. --David Brainerd (1718-1747, from his diary, he was a missionary to the Delaware and the Seneca Indians of New Jersey and New York)

O Lord our God, arise,
The cause of truth maintain;
And wide o'er all the peopled earth
Extend her blessed reign.
--The hymn sung frequently at worship by missionaries William Carey and Joshua Marshman in India, after the death of their associate William Ward in 1823.

Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice among men and nations. --A Prayer for Social Justice, Book of Common Prayer, American Revision, 1928

Regarding the Lord's Prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4, Georg F. Vicedom has said, "One cannot pray the Lord's Prayer without having a world map before his eyes."