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Lees op hierdie webblad:
  • We Are Not The Borg!
  • Religious Liberty and Persecution
  • The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter
  • Harry Potter -- a personal view
  • Physical, spiritual death threatens Afghanistan's 26,7 million unreached
  • Nostradamus, September 2001
  • Myths of the Middle-East
  • Scents and nonsense
  • Life after the 81st floor

We Are Not The Borg!

LEFT: Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, a Borg member who has left the collective to join the Star Trek Voyager crew.

Bishop James `I Feel God' Brown
[email protected]
Victory Church, Ft. Worth, TX


"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile"

FOR those not familiar with the arch enemy of Star Trek vessels across the galaxy, those words have little meaning. But for Trekies everywhere the words are known to give instant rise to an uneasy feeling which is almost impossible to ignore.

In the fictional world of Star Trek, the Borg are a powerful culture of cyberneticly enhanced beings from various races, the Borg are a blend of the biological and the technological. Their spaceships are square and their mission is known as "assimilation".

Each Borg member or "Drone" is connected to a sophisticated subspace communications network forming what is termed the collective consciousness. The entire Borg species operates as one gigantic organism. Within this shared consciousness, the ideas of individuality, freedom and self-determination are nearly meaningless concepts.

On last week, a member of our church brought to my attention that many un-churched people think of Christians as a type of Borg. In their minds, our mission is to rob them of their individuality and assimilate them into a race of people who hide behind a false superiority.

To them the "Christian Collective" never is interested in their needs, wants, or desires, but is fixated with assimilation of them and their friends. Some have even had friends who they "lost" to this insidious menace called Christianity.

Wow, what a bombshell! Is that how non-Christians see us? As I thought about it, I became convinced that was indeed the case!

The analogies are stunning. When we become Christians we do become like other Christians through the centuries. Our desires and motivations change. We become part of something much larger than ourselves. We communicate with a God we cannot see and respond to other Christians with what we call "intercessory prayer". Most alarming, salvation causes us to realign our priorities from self seeking and self serving, to a God ordained and mandated agenda.

However, we are not the Borg!

The Borg would destroy those who would not be an asset to the collective. Christians have historically been those who were thrown away and unwanted. Jesus typically called and ministered to the throwaways of society. The Church continues to do so today. We are not the Borg.

The Borg would force their way on others and make them assimilate. Christians can only present the truth about the life available through the blood of Jesus. Anyone who does not willingly desire this "God-life" is free to accept or reject, without retribution by those of us who offer it. We are not the Borg.

The Borg collective was designed to be a cold and heartless place where mindless droids would only do what they were told, without any feeling whatsoever. Christians are called and appointed to be the most caring, loving, and thinking creatures ever created. We relish our role as sacrificial lovers of others. We are not the Borg.

The Borg had little freedom because they did not posses spirit. Jesus was clear that the comforter of the Church, known as the Holy Spirit, would be with us always. The Bible further declares that where the Spirit of the Lord is there will be freedom. This Christian love of freedom and liberty is at the heart of our America. Christians love liberty, freedom, and others who feel the same. We are not the Borg!

As the Body of Christ on the earth, we must be diligent to let the world know our motives and methods are genuine and loving. We must never be high and mighty or act with smug superiority. We must use our superior weapons to relieve suffering and deliver victory to a lost and hurting world. Moreover, we must use that communications network to pray, pray, and pray some more. Today, take the time to share your faith. Remember - We are not the Borg!

NOTE: The following information must be included if you reprint this article:
© Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved James M. Brown

Bishop James `I Feel God' Brown is the founder and Sr. Pastor of Victory international Church in Fort Worth, TX. He is in demand locally and nationally as a revivalist, conference speaker, and Seminar Leader.

"Qualities Of A Faith Man" is the new booklet from Bishop `I Feel God'
Obtain your copy from the Victory Church website @

For quality web hosting visit

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Update on Persecution

World Evangelical Alliance Defender
Religious Liberty and Persecution Update

April 2002

World Evangelical Alliance presents report on
Religious Freedom to the United Nations

THE GENENEVA REPORT 2002 revealed that an unprecedented number of Christians now face disinformation, discrimination, and outright persecution worldwide. It detailed specific cases of persecution in India, Greece, Cyprus, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, China and Sudan. The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission presented their findings at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on April 8, 2002.

"We estimate that there are more than 200 million Christians in the world today who do not have full human rights as defined by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, simply because they are Christians. We believe that this is the largest group in the world without full human rights because of their beliefs," states Johan Candelin, director of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission.

The report addressed several key issues and questions. Key issues included advancing religious freedom at home and mobilizing a constituency in support of international religious liberty.

WEA called on UN member states to give greater attention to the practical implementation of basic provisions of existing international norms that protect religious freedom and promote religious tolerance. Many other basic rights depend on freedom of religion -- the right of free speech, assembly, education, parenting and travel.

Following are a few highlights from the report.

"Religious freedom is being violated in almost every part of the world and there is an urgent need to uphold the right to religious freedom for all people, regardless of faith, creed, language, nationality, race, color, social origin, gender, or aboriginal or other culture.

"The national and local governments ought to respect the right of every person to practice, teach, propagate, change and observe his or her religion or belief. The government-sponsored gross violations of religious freedom such as genocide, murder, slavery, and torture based on religious faith or belief, as well as the destruction of holy places, should be the subject of sanctions and other exercises of foreign policy powers by nations adhering to the principles of religious freedom.

"No country has the right to label traditional Christian teaching or meetings as 'evil sects' or agents for 'foreign' or 'hostile sources' thus giving themselves some sort of 'moral right' to imprison Christians and to send the pastors to prison or labor camps. Neither can the expression 'disturbing social harmony' be used as a reason to deny someone's human rights if the country has signed the UN declaration.

"When the Taliban destroyed the Buddhist statues last year, they sent a powerful message to the world that religious totalitarianism is a denial of pluralism of faiths.

"The question: Why are so many Christians persecuted?

"It seems illogical that people who stand for sincerity, honesty, truth, honor, friendship, hard work, and compassion for the weak should be considered to pose a threat to society, or should give rise to feelings of outright hatred. Yet this is often the reason Christians are persecuted. Common problems and misconceptions about Christian minority populations are identified.

The full report is available at

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The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

by Paul Bicking

IN CONSIDERING a film’s acceptability rating, various factors play a part, including the expected age of the audience. The strong negative rating for the PG rated HARRY POTTER received the expected response. While many expressed support for our position, others felt we were overly harsh and even erroneously dogmatic. Each is entitled to their opinion and will make their decision accordingly.

New opinions will no doubt be formed at the slightly more favorable acceptability rating given the PG-13 rated THE LORD OF THE RINGS. While both stories involve elements of fantasy and both contain wizards, there are bigger differences. HARRY, as noted in our previous commentaries, crosses between what we consider the real world and the fantasy world of Hogwart’s. The inclusion of reality with fantasy is one disturbing point in HARRY. Another point is Harry’s status as the hero and focal point of the stories. In identifying with him, young readers are enticed to seek out the possibility of having powers like Harry. Again, making Harry part of the real world further makes that possibility seem plausible and maybe even attainable. Since the Bible teaches against witchcraft, applauding Harry forces us to go against what, as Christians, we believe is God’s command.

But in THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the focus is on the hobbit Frodo. Frodo has no magic powers, no special mark to set him apart, and, with a small stature, not even heroic bearing. But he demonstrates bravery, steadfastness and acceptance of a burden he could just as easily let go. The story also focuses on a theme of people different races finding strength in union against evil forces. It also features themes of true friendship found in sharing burdens, sacrifice for others and putting others ahead of yourself.

The story also takes place in a world of pure fantasy. Although the themes and allegorical allusions to historical events reflect our world, Middle Earth is the fictional creation of Tolkien, even to the languages of elves and dwarves. While Tolkien’s world includes men, the setting still falls into a medieval fantasy; it is not the world as we know it.

Lastly, while both stories contain wizards, Tolkien’s are set apart as another race. Like medieval monks, they dwell in monasteries filled with books for learning. Their powers do not include flying, except on backs of large eagles. But they can manipulate earthly elements like fire and water. And while both stories talk about corrupted wizards, Tolkien shows the evil power behind the corruption.

Tolkien reflects his Christian beliefs in focusing on the small insignificant person who can change the world, save it from evil, by being faithful and true to his mission. It hints of the small insignificance of a baby born in an out of the way town, who also changed a world.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
-- a moving staircase too far?

A personal view by Martin Saunders, Premier Christian Radio, England / Special to ASSIST News Service

LONDON, ENGLAND (ANS) -- "The most eagerly-anticipated movie event of the year" is a term thrown around far too liberally in film marketing circles these days. Nevertheless, in the case of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the slogan is justified beyond doubt. J.K. Rowling's series of books is nothing less than a phenomenon, with millions of fans, young and old, all over the world. The mere announcement that the first novel was to be filmed was enough to send those fans into frenzy. Now, the unprecedented response to the release of one-seventh of the Harry Potter legacy has been enough to see box office records tumble and toy shop shelves empty.

As most people with eyes and ears will know by now, Harry Potter is a boy wizard, who during the course of his education at Hogwart's school of wizardry, falls into all sorts of (literally) magical adventure. He learns how to cast spells, how to repel "the dark arts," and even how to fly on a racing broomstick, and uses his expertise in an on-going battle with an evil wizard, Voldemort. By his side are two friends, Hermione and Ron, and a gentle giant, Robbie Coltrane's brilliantly played Hagrid, who join him as he navigates his way past three-headed dogs, giant trolls and the wizard equivalent of Rollerball. So in a nutshell, it's your run-of-the-mill buddy-buddy comedy wizard thriller.

Before even addressing the spiritual aspect of the film, it is important that we ask an even more important question. Is the film actually any good on a superficial level? The answer, as might be hoped for considering the amount of money that it cost to put together, is a resounding yes. The acting, from an all-British cast, is startlingly good, especially from the marvelously pantomime Alan Rickman, as Harry's potion teacher Professor Snape. The sets and costumes are as lavish as the tourist-board-friendly locations; the orchestral score a must for filmgoers and classical music listeners alike. And thankfully, despite his dubious pedigree, director Chris Columbus has performed a marvelous act of contortion in editing down what was a finished four-hour film. The plot is as faithful to Rowling's original as time can allow, and as a result we end up with a masterpiece of children's fantasy.

Unfortunately, the review cannot end there. Before I went to see this film, I was fervently clutching my lucky rabbit's foot, hoping that the storm of disapproval created by various Christian commentators was only really fit or a teacup. Christians need to be aware of the culture, and wherever possible, should try to participate in and understand it. Harry Potter is about as popular as culture gets in 2001, so the church needs to know as much about it as the screaming, sticker-swapping, action-figure buying rest of the world does. Whether that extends to taking our young children along to see it however, is a matter for some debate.

Even the most liberally minded soul cannot deny that the Harry Potter story deals explicitly with Witchcraft. Children see Harry learning spells, and whilst he does fight evil with them, he also uses them for more menial tasks. He uses his magic to help him in the sporting arena for instance, and to play a prank on one of his enemies. It is perhaps this aspect of Harry Potter that should be of most concern - the apparent legitimization of witchcraft and wizardry in a child's everyday life. Teen magazines in the UK already contain "Spooky" sections, where children can learn spells to help them tidy their room, or silence their teacher. Harry Potter is therefore a large doorway to the occult, and if we lead children to it, there is a possibility that they may nudge it open.

The film also presents two other areas of concern. Firstly, and perhaps surprisingly, the language used in the film is at times rather strong for a "children's film," and quite unnecessary. Secondly, the film is extremely frightening in places. The depiction of Harry's evil nemesis, Voldemort, is straight out of a horror film in the Hellraiser league, whilst the murder of Harry's mother, the giant snarling monster hidden in the vaults of Hogwarts, and the shadowy danger of the dark woods outside it are all the stuff of nightmares.

This film is a genuine Parental Guidance affair. It is advisable that, however laborious it may sound, parents go to watch the film, or at least read the book on which it is based, before they let their children become involved. It is unquestionably a gray area text - a fine movie with some dark content hidden among the light. And whilst I'm a huge advocate of culturally relevant Christianity, Harry Potter may be a moving staircase too far.


Martin Saunders can be contacted at [email protected]

Note: Dr. Ted Baehr of MOVIEGUIDE ® has produced a free guide to
Harry Potter. You can request a copy from
[email protected]

**Additional ANS stories can be found at

** You may use this story with proper attribution.
ASSISTNews Service (ANS) - PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126 USA E-mail:
[email protected] , Web Site:

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BAPTIST PRESS OCTOBER 23, 2001   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Physical, spiritual death
threatens Afghanistan's
26,7 million unreached
By Brittany Jarvi

KABUL, Afghanistan (BP) -- Pakistani police fired shots to control thousands of Afghan refugees massing Sunday, Oct. 21, at the country's border with Afghanistan. Aid workers project that as many as 1,7 million refugees from Afghanistan and surrounding countries are flooding toward Pakistan, fleeing the war and the worst drought in 30 years.

No aid agencies are able to work inside Afghanistan and all surrounding countries have closed their borders, setting the stage for a humanitarian disaster of horrifying proportions, aid workers say.

Heightening the urgency for Southern Baptist workers, of course, is the fact that virtually none of the refugees whose lives are in danger has heard the good news of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.

As conditions in the region change, however, Southern Baptists will have tremendous opportunities to share the good news of God's love and minister to people in crisis.


Afghanistan is a place where in a "good" year only one in four children dies before the age of 5 and the average person survives only 44 years. Factor in a four-year famine and 20 years of political turmoil, and you have a
country in such terrible condition that people are forced to feed on stubby grass and locusts.

Lakes have evaporated, leaving cracked valleys of mud. Emaciated animals, the few to escape slaughter, stumble about in search of brittle sticks of grass. Before the events of Sept. 11 sent Afghanistan into an even deeper downward spiral, Afghans already were suffering in dire economic and political conditions.

"Afghanistan has two wheat harvests," explained a worker who is focused on an unreached people group in Afghanistan. "[From] the first harvest they were able to get a little bit because of the snowfall in the winter. The second wheat harvest for this year [yielded] next to nothing."

The World Food Program estimates that as many as 6 million Afghans rely on food aid for survival.


Political turmoil also has gripped Afghanistan for two decades. First came the Soviet invasion, which Afghan factions eventually defeated with help from the United States. The factions then spent the next 10 years fighting each other for control of the maimed country. By the late '90s the Taliban emerged as the strongest army.

After gaining control of more than 95 percent of the country, the Taliban set out to purge Afghanistan of its Western trappings and to establish their version of an ideal Islamic state. Women were stripped of their freedoms. Crimes against Islam were declared punishable by death. And "holy war" was waged against enemies of Allah.

The famine and violence have forced millions of Afghans to flee to Pakistan and Iran for refuge. Millions more have been displaced from their homes and trapped within Afghanistan's borders.

Whole families of refugees live in tents no more than 3,5 feet square. They sleep on the ground with no blankets or protection from the brutal winters. Last winter, desperate parents dug holes in the ground, placed their children in the holes and laid on top of them to give their children a slight respite from frigid temperatures. And usually there is no running water or sewage system.

"As far as humanitarian aid work, you name it, you could do it," said the Christian worker. "It just shows the immense need that is there."


But as bleak as physical conditions seem, the spiritual situation of the Afghan people is even worse. While the United Nations rushes to distribute tons of food and warm clothing to Afghanistan's destitute, the country is closed to missions agencies that could fill the spiritual void in people's hearts.

According to Operation World, Afghanistan's 26,7 million people are divided among 70 people groups. The vast majority practice Islam and will die without ever hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. Of the 10 largest people groups in Afghanistan, only four have Scriptures portions available in their language.

One example are the Taimanis, one of the largest people groups in Afghanistan and also one of the most unreached. With no access to the Bible, the "Jesus" film or Christian broadcasts in their language, at least 96 percent of the people have not heard the gospel. There are no known Christians among them and no mission agencies working with their 480 100 people.

Pashtuns, Afghanistan's most numerous people group, have a greater chance of encountering the gospel than any other group in Afghanistan. The Jesus film and Christian broadcasts are available in Pashtu, their heart language. But Pashtuns have yet to read the Scriptures in their own language. Only 35 percent of the 12,9 million Pashtuns have heard the gospel.

Afghans are suffering, but they continue to display the hospitality and generosity for which they are known.

"Our helper, who lived with us, helped us with manual labor and yet had eight children at home," said the Christian worker. "He gave us his only rooster for Christmas when he found out how important a holiday it was for us. That was the only livestock or poultry they had, yet he willingly gave it to us."

Workers ask Southern Baptists to pray specifically that the few Afghan believers still in the country will have opportunities to share God's love with other Afghans who are suffering and dying.

Southern Baptists interested in aiding International Mission Board relief work in Afghanistan also can contribute to the IMB's general relief fund and designate their gifts for Afghanistan. Every dollar given will be used 100 percent for Afghanistan relief.

"The funds will not only be used to help people with their physical needs, but it will also create an opportunity for people like us to be among them, help them and share with them," the worker said.

Contributions can be sent to International Mission Board, General Relief Fund - Afghanistan, PO Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230. Contributions to Project No. "GRF - Afghanistan" can be made online at

Mark Kelly contributed to this article.  

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It doesn’t require a great deal of psychic skill to make vague, general predictions... For comfort I think I’ll stick with "In God We Trust"
-- newspaper columnist in the
column on Nostradamus below

September 2001

DID Nostradamus, the French astrologer and grocery-store tabloid icon, predict the terrible terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1654?

  • The big war will begin when the big city is burning
    on the 11th day of the 9th month that
    two metal birds would crash into two tall statues
    in the new city and the world will end soon after.
    Nostradamus, 1654
  • Wow! That’’s amazing -- if not just a bit disturbing! Well, may be not.

    First, it seems to be a complete hoax since Nostradamus died in 1566! The closest writing to the fake prophecy above is:

  • The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude,
    Fire approaches the great new city
    Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up
    When they want to have verification from the Normans
    Century 6, Quatrain 97
  • Secondly, New York City lies at exactly 40 degrees, 42 minutes, 51 seconds north latitude and the Normans are the French. (For the truly paranoid, beware of Alpina, Michigan, St. Cloud, Minnesota, Billings, Montana, Portland, Oregon, and Aberdeen, South Dakota —— all of which are on the 45th latitude!)

    Third, his predictions, written in four-line verses called "quatrains" are so vague that his words can be interpreted to mean virtually anything. Astrologers and psychics are counting on us wanting to believe them. The characteristics of the various signs of horoscopes are so vague, we could talk ourselves into believing "that's me"! And stargazers are depending on us to interpret their general predictions with our specific situation.

    For instance, here’s what I predicted as "Swami Watkins" in this column on January 2, 2001.

    "President-elect George ("I know how hard it is to put food on your family") Bush will say something silly during the course of the year." Sure enough, on April 10, the President said, "This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end."

    I also predicted, "Sock Puppet will contract a bad case of ratings and have to be put down." When went belly up, the Internet pet supply company sold their mascot to but "Sock Puppet" has not been seen since.

    And, I went out on a limb by predicting, "a famous Hollywood couple will split up citing irreconcilable differences." On February 7, Tom Cruise filed for divorce from Nicole Kidman!

    I also predicted that, and I quote, "Earthquakes, famine, wars and rumors of war will continue to dominate newspaper headlines." On January 26 an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale killed 20,103 in northwest India. Ten other earthquakes of 7.0 have been reported this year. And then, on September 11, headlines announced "President declares war."

    Obviously, it doesn’t require a great deal of psychic skill to make vague, general predictions. Astrologers and psychics get into trouble when they try to predict specific events.

    For instance, Jean Dixon, who had a best-selling book in the 1960's, gained fame for predicting the assassination of President Kennedy. Then, again, so did my chronically conservative grandfather: "Somebody's gonna kill that young, liberal whipper-snapper." What doesn't appear on Dixon's resume' is that she also predicted that Richard Nixon would win the 1960 election--not Kennedy--and that the Russians would beat us to the moon. She had a 6 percent record for accuracy during her career!

    So why did Internet users make "Nostradamus" the second highest search engine word on Lycos following the terrorist attack? Stephen O'Leary, a professor of communications at the University of Southern California, who studies Nostradamus, believes "Finding an event predicted in prophecy gives people some kind of comfort, as if there's more order."

    Despite my amazing abilities as "Swami Watkins," I think I’ll stick with our national motto for comfort, thank you. "In God We Trust."

    (c) 2001 James N. Watkins (Jim Shorts)

    newspaper column
    'Jim Shorts' on spirituality

    Jim describes himself as a "hemorrhoid in the Body of Christ. I don't let believers sit too comfortably on the pew."

    He writes a weekly column for the News-Sun.

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    By Joseph Farah


    I'VE  been quiet since Israel erupted in fighting spurred by disputes over the Temple Mount.

    Until now, I haven't even bothered to say, "See, I told you so." But I can't resist any longer. I feel compelled to remind you of the column I wrote just a couple weeks before the latest uprising. Yeah, folks, I predicted it. That's OK. Hold your applause. After all, I wish I had been wrong. More than 80 people have been killed since the current fighting in and around Jerusalem began. And for what?

    If you believe what you read in most news sources, Palestinians want a homeland and Muslims want control over sites they consider holy. Simple, right? Well, as an Arab-American journalist who has spent some time in the Middle East dodging more than my share of rocks and mortar shells, I've got to tell you that these are just phony excuses for the rioting, trouble-making and land-grabbing.

    Isn't it interesting that prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no serious movement for a Palestinian homeland? "Well, Farah," you might say, "that was before the Israelis seized the West Bank and Old Jerusalem."

    That's true. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. But they didn't capture these territories from Yasser Arafat. They captured them from Jordan's King Hussein. I can't help but wonder why all these Palestinians suddenly discovered their national identity after Israel won the war.

    The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.

    Palestine has never existed -- before or since -- as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.

    There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the land mass. But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.

    What about Islam's holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem. Shocked? You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal truth from anyone else in the international media. It's just not politically correct. I know what you're going to say: "Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy sites."
    Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem.

    So how did Jerusalem become the third holiest site of Islam? Muslims today cite a vague passage in the Koran, the seventeenth Sura, entitled "The Night Journey." It relates that in a dream or a vision Mohammed was carried by night "from the sacred temple to the temple that is most remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him our signs..." In the seventh century, some Muslims identified the two temples mentioned in this verse as being in Mecca and Jerusalem. And that's as close as Islam's connection with Jerusalem gets -- myth, fantasy, wishful thinking. Meanwhile, Jews can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham.

    The latest round of violence in Israel erupted when Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon tried to visit the Temple Mount, the foundation of the Temple built by Solomon. It is the holiest site for Jews. Sharon and his
    entourage were met with stones and threats. I know what it's like. I've been there. Can you imagine what it is like for Jews to be threatened, stoned and physically kept out of the holiest site in Judaism?

    So what's the solution to the Middle East mayhem? Well, frankly, I don't think there is a man-made solution to the violence. But, if there is one,
    it needs to begin with truth. Pretending will only lead to more chaos. Treating a 5000-year-old birthright backed by overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence equally with illegitimate claims, wishes and wants gives diplomacy and peacekeeping a bad name."

    For other informative editorials by Joseph Farah, direct your browser to:

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    UYING candles used to be a lot simpler. They had one basic purpose, lighting. And since there wasn't much at stake, it didn't matter which kind you bought. But that's all changed now, in this age in which people will believe in almost anything.

    A walk down the aisle of a grocery store, especially the upscale kind, will tell you that candles aren't about light anymore. They're about achieving tranquility and a sense of well-being. How? Through smell, of course. They come in scents like balsam, lavender, sandalwood, and jasmine, to name but a few. Practitioners of what's called "aromatherapy" maintain that each of these scents can produce a distinct emotional state.

    Aromatherapy has its roots in New Age practices. Enthusiasts call it a "complementary medicine." They tout it as a treatment for everything from impotence, insomnia, and infections to liver and heart disease and even cancer.

    Well, to put it mildly, scientists are skeptical of these claims. Researchers have concluded that that any benefits from the scents are a matter of wishful thinking. Well, apparently a lot of people are wishing these days. The growth of the market has prompted major cosmetic and houseware companies to jump onto the aromatherapy bandwagon. You've seen aromatherapy stores in supermarkets and airports.

    What keeps fads like this going is the increasing willingness of many Americans to believe almost anything, especially if it promises some of the benefits that are traditionally associated with religion. If it promises inner peace or a way to make sense of the world, then rest assured, it attracts followers.

    More than half of all Americans not only believe in astrology, they believe there's a scientific basis for it. A smaller but still substantial number say they believe in alien abductions and think there's really a lost continent of Atlantis. Others wear special bracelets that promise protection, healing powers, or wealth.

    The word that describes all this phony faith is "credulity," which means to give unreflective credence to claims that are dubious if not ridiculous. The credulity I'm talking about is unconcerned with the reasonableness of the claim, because it's not really concerned with truth.

    What credulous people are interested in are the personal benefits that are being promised. If one promise turns out to be empty, just move on to the next one.

    By contrast, biblical faith begins with the question "Is this true?" Christians aren't out simply to satisfy our desires but rather to see whether what's being claimed conforms to reality -- whether it accurately describes us and the context in which we live our lives.

    Stated another way, faith doesn't believe for belief's sake. It believes because it knows that some things are true and that it is our duty to know what they are, and to live accordingly.

    This belief in truth is why Christianity is seen as an oasis of reason in a desert of credulity and superstition. The distinction between true faith and "belief in anything" is something we must make clear to our neighbors. We must gently disabuse them of the idea that believing in scents or stars or crystals or UFOs is in any way comparable to faith in Christ.

    And they need to know that true faith is the difference between wishful thinking and the real thing.

    Visit the Breakpoint website at
    For more information about Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship Ministries, visit

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    Life After the 81st Floor

    By Dan Van Veen, Assemblies of God News Service 

    ON September 11, 2001, God spared Stanley Praimnath's life - there's no other way to explain it. Praimnath along with his new friend, Brian Clark, miraculously made it out of the burning World Trade Center Tower Two from the 81st floor moments before its collapse.

    Over the past five months, Praimnath, his wife Jennifer and their two girls, have been through a whirlwind of emotions and demands. It hasn't been easy, but as Stanley explained, he would go through his narrow escape all over again if it meant more souls would be saved. 

    "The 700 Club came to my little home and taped a show with me," said Praimnath. "I called the producer up later and asked for a copy of the tape. As I was talking to him, he asked me if the number '259' meant anything to me. I told him it didn't. He told me when they aired the program for the first day, 259 people responded and came to the Lord. When he told me that, I cried - I cried like a baby! 

    "For church, we evangelize all summer long, and if we see one person come join the church, we're happy," Praimnath continued. "But here, one shot, and 259 people came to the Lord - I don't mind going through the rubble one time more if it means people will be saved." 

    After barely escaping certain death, Praimnath has continued to experience God's love in many ways. "People from all over the country, that I don't know, have called or contacted me to express their sympathy and show concern," he said. "God has opened many doors, even people at my job have been very gracious."

    One of the results of being in such a traumatic experience was an inability to sleep. "The doctor explained it to me that my adrenal glands were wide open all the time," Praimnath said, "so he gave me some
    medication to help me sleep - it didn't work.

    "However, I picked up my Bible and started reading Psalm 91 - 'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ...A thousand shall fall at thy side. ...For he shall give his angels charge over thee' - and every time I read this psalm, a peace and calm would come over me. Here I take the medication
    and can't sleep. I read Psalm 91 ... I only took two of the pills, and none since then." 

    But why Praimnath? Why should God spare his life while thousands of others perished? 

    "I will never be able to know why God singled me out over and above all these people, people that I'm sure some were religious and good people," Praimnath said. "All I can say is that Jesus didn't want me yet. There isn't any reason that I should be here - all the odds I beat ... the Lord is not ready for me yet, He still has things for me to do. 

    "I'm just an ordinary churchgoer," Praimnath added. "I'm not a pastor or evangelist, I just want people to understand this: God is real and He is there just waiting for you to tell Him to take control and take over." 

    What's Next?

    One might wonder what God has in store for this "ordinary" man? 

    Over the past months, Praimnath has been interviewed by a number of magazines and news organizations and has spoken at several churches - being faithful to give God the credit and glory for all He has done. Now, God seems intent on allowing Praimnath to share his testimony to a larger audience. 

    "Pastor Terry Fossen of Central Baptist Church in Alberta, Canada, contacted me," said Praimnath. "On Feb. 9, I will going to Alberta to speak - they have rented out the convention center and expect 4000 to 5000 people to be there." Praimnath, who has been the Sunday school superintendent for Bethel Assembly (South Ozone Park) for about a year, has seen God use him in other ways. For example, Sunday school attendance has increased about 75 percent in less than a year. "Every week, I pray for just one more," said Praimnath, "and when I see that attendance go up on the board, I just start thanking my Jesus." 

    Along with ministering to the masses, God has given Praimnath many opportunities to minister to individuals. "Many of the people I work with [at Fuji Bank Limited] are Buddhists and Shinto. One day, a Japanese lady came up to me and said, 'Stan, you have a minute? Tell me about your god.' I laughed and said, 'My god? No, it's our God.' She then asks me, 'Can I try your god out?' I was happy to tell her she could anytime just by asking Him to come into her life. 

    "One Sunday, I was speaking at a church in Suffolk County," Praimnath continued," and my boss Peter and his wife Nancy, who are Catholic, knew we would be in the area and invited us over for lunch after church. We were running late, so Peter had gone out to look for us. We arrived and sat down with Nancy, and she started asking me about God and our church. 'I want that fire that you have,' she said to me later and then even sent me a WWJD bracelet. 

    "A few weeks later, Peter stopped me in the hall, 'I don't know what you told Nancy, but whatever it was, she has been so on fire for the Lord! Tell me something about your church.' So, here I am, witnessing to my boss," said Praimnath. 

    Praimnath even found opportunity to encourage his counselor. "I was confident that even as God healed my body, he would heal my mind," Praimnath said. But after some encouragement, he decided to go to counseling. "The counselor asked why I was there, so I told her my story," he said. "After I was done, she was very quiet and seemed shaken. So, I said, 'Can I ask you a question - are you a believer?' She told me, 'You have renewed my faith.' " 

    Stressful Issues Too

    But it hasn't been all roses for the Praimnath family. "It's been totally life changing," said Jennifer, Stanley's wife. "Now, we [including their two daughters, ages 4 and 9] can't wait for him to get home - we can never get enough of him. Before [September 11], we just took things for granted." 

    The stress comes in as Stanley now has to commute a total of four hours every day to and from his new office location. He also has to deal with the demands of people from around the world contacting him - returning phone calls and e-mails from people wanting to speak with him about his story, not to mention traveling to events-all things that take time away from his family. 

    "Sometimes, it's kind of overwhelming," said Jennifer. "I want him to go to these places and for all the people to hear, but deep in my heart, there's something that doesn't want me to let him to go, either. Sometimes it gets very stressful, but we're trying to do our best with God's help." 

    Stanley agrees that the world has changed for his family and him. "We never had $250 phone bills before this, either, and I am not a rich man," he said. But he also knows that he can't stop telling people of what God has done for him.

    "People envision that God is far away, unreachable, but God is right there," he said. "Just reach out your hand and He will take it. You don't have to say a long prayer, as I learned, all you have to do is call out to Him and He will be there for you. I wish I could tell the entire nation at one shot, 'God is real, what He did for me, He could do for you.' It's the message in my heart, and I'll tell it wherever I go as I long as I live." 

    To read the story about Stanley's Sept. 11 miracle:
    God Spares Deacon from Death on the 81st Floor

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