December 2013

11 Montagnard men ordained

December 2 2013 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

On Nov. 16 at Glenwood Friends Meeting in Greensboro, 11 Montagnard men were ordained to spread the gospel.
Since the waning of the Vietnam War, the Montagnard people have sought freedom from their communist government. In fact, the Montagnards were allies with the United States during the Vietnam War.
“Commissioning this many pastors to serve the Montagnard population in North Carolina will strengthen the efforts of N.C. Baptists to impact lostness,” said Milton Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), who was present at the service. “Through their Spirit-filled work in churches and communities both here and abroad, these couples will reach many lost Montagnard people with the gospel. They will also help converts become vibrant followers of Jesus Christ as they create disciple-making communities all around them.”
Originally from the central highlands of Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia, the Montagnard population began increasing in North Carolina, particularly in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte.

BR photo by Mike Creswell
Baptist State Convention leaders Milton A. Hollifield Jr., top row left, and Chuck Register, top right, join with other leaders to pray over 11 Montagnard men who were ordained and their wives. The Nov. 16 service was a culmination of much study for the men and was held at Glenwood Friends Meeting House in Greensboro, where Montagnard Christian Bible Church meets.

In the mid-1980s, the refugees were resettling in these areas because of the number of Special Forces veterans living in the area, the supportive businesses, the numerous entry-level job opportunities and the close similarities of climate they knew from their native land.
Special programs for the re-education of camp detainees permitted Montagnard immigrants to relocate to America. Also, the Orderly Departure Program, an agreement between the United Nations and the Vietnamese government, relocated refugees so they might reunite with family members already residing in the U.S. 
Then there are the Montagnard Christians who fled to escape the intense persecution of the Vietnamese government, which consisted of imprisonment, intimidation, fines, torture and death.
Every one of the men ordained in the Nov. 16 service, and some of their wives, suffered governmental persecution. Some were beaten and forced to work for the government while others fled to nearby Cambodia and lived in refugee camps.
Some hid in the jungle for nearly two decades and other men were put in prison several times – one for five years.
The hope for religious freedom was a great desire for the Montagnard Christians – a hope they found eventually in America.
The 11 Montagnard men – Nca Cam, Y Chuoih Kpor, Weh Ksor, Ajac Kpa, Y-Oal Nie, Y Dhieng Buan Krong, Y Nguan Bya, Y Simon Eban, Y Ghak Adrong, Hial Eban Y, Rcom Bleh – recently completed a rigorous three-year study of the Bible, Christian doctrine and pastoral leadership that was developed by K. ’Them Nfn, pastor of Highland Christian Church, a Montagnard Baptist congregation in Asheboro.
’Them Nfn started the first Montagnard church in Greensboro in 2003 and in 2008 he moved to the smaller Asheboro church so he and his son, Simon Touprong, also a minister, could focus on discipleship and pastoral training.
A few weeks before the ordination service, each of the men stood before an ordination counsel comprised of men representing BSC member churches. John Jarman, pastor of Rankin Baptist Church in Greensboro, and Steve Sells, director of missions for Randolph Baptist Association, said that they felt unworthy to question the faith of these men who were provided solid, theological training.
“Whoever aspires to the office of overseer desires a great and noble task. It is clear from 1 Timothy 3 that the pastor is to be known by his integrity and his Christian virtues,” said Sells, who preached the ordination sermon.
“He must demonstrate truth, honesty and irreproachable character. The church needs more men like you to surrender to the ministry. “In fact, we are all very fortunate that God has called and allowed each of you men to enter into the ministry because there are far too few who are willing to go.”
With the laying on of hands, the Montagnard men and their wives were then prayed over by all ordained pastors present to celebrate the special day. One of the 11 ordained men will return to Cambodia as a missionary, two will be starting new Montagnard churches in N.C., and the others are already serving as pastors of churches.
Before receiving their pastoral certificates from Milton Hollifield, he said, “The certificate you are about to receive represents that you will be a pastor of God’s people.
“Many of you have experienced difficulties in life and ministry because of your love and obedience to Christ and your willingness to proclaim the gospel of salvation. As you continue this journey, I pray for rich blessings upon your life, your family and your ministry.”
 Montagnard Baptist churches in N.C.
  • Bunong Christian Church, Greensboro
  • Kroi Kong Plei Ku Church, Charlotte
  • Oyadao Baptist Church, Charlotte
  • Montagnard Christian Bible Church, Greensboro
  • Dega Christian Church, Charlotte
  • United Montagnard Christian Church, Greensboro
  • Sang Oi A Dai Mathio Anih, Charlotte
  • Jarai Baptist Church, New Bern
  • Ana Jarai Baptist Church, Charlotte
  • Montagnard Baptist Church, Raleigh
  • Highland Christian Church, Asheboro
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael McEwen is Biblical Recorder’s Content Editor.)
12/2/2013 5:35:06 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Televangelist Paul Crouch dies at 79

December 2 2013 by Adelle Banks, Religion News Service

Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79.
His death was announced on the network’s website.

“We are grateful for the life of this amazing servant of God,” it said. “Please pray for the Crouch family during this time.”
Crouch and his wife, Jan, started the network in a rented facility in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1973. Now based in Costa Mesa, it grew to include a “family of networks” and became the largest and most-watched Christian broadcast company in the country.
“Paul was a pioneer in Christian television; the channels and studios that Paul built around the world are an incredible achievement and will live on as a permanent legacy,” religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, founder of the rival Christian Broadcasting Network, said in a statement.

Photo courtesy Trinity Broadcasting Network
Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79.

In October, Crouch was taken to a Dallas-area hospital after falling ill. By November he had returned to California, where a spokesman said his doctors were addressing “heart and related health issues.”
Crouch was the host of TBN’s “Behind the Scenes,” which gave donors updates on network activities. He also co-hosted with his wife TBN’s flagship “Praise the Lord” program, which now sometimes features other Christian celebrities hosts, such as Bishop T.D. Jakes and singer Carman, but maintains the Christian chats, guest musicians and Pentecostal fervor it has had for decades.
“Tears pour from my eyes, I’ll miss my friend but there is Joy in Heaven were millions of people are thanking him for sharing Jesus with them,” said evangelist Arthur Blessitt, who has carried a large cross around the world and was a frequent guest on TBN programs.
Crouch was an on-air evangelist but also a media magnate who expanded his television empire to several continents, including Central and South America. Both he and his wife stood out physically — especially his wife’s purple bouffant hairstyle — but their main success was a multimillion-dollar network in which popular religious broadcasters paid to air their programs.
“With his snowy white mane, he was a visibly important part of televangelistic talk shows, but he did not cultivate a flashy or controversial style of delivering his message,” said Anson Shupe, retired professor of sociology from Indiana University-Purdue University, who wrote about televangelists in the 1980s.
Crouch was born in St. Joseph, Mo., and earned a degree in theology from Central Bible Institute and Seminary in Springfield, Mo. He started his broadcasting career at an AM radio station while he was a student.
His father was an Assemblies of God minister who, along with several other family members, attended the Pentecostal denomination’s first General Council in 1914. The younger Crouch was appointed by the denomination in 1961 to oversee a film and audiovisual studio in Burbank, Calif. He was also an Assemblies of God credentialed minister from 1957 to 1975, after which he chose not to renew his credentials, the denomination said.
After four years working for the Assemblies of God, Crouch moved to radio and television stations in California in the late 1960s. He and his wife Jan, who he married in 1957, founded TBN in 1973. They had started working with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker but after disagreements, the Bakkers headed to the East Coast to start their own television ministry.
When Jim Bakker and another televangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, both ended up the subject of scandals, Crouch was able to reap the benefits of their losses.
Like them, Crouch also shared in controversy. In 2004, the network denied allegations of his involvement in a homosexual encounter after the Los Angeles Times reported that he reached a $425,000 settlement with a man who made the claims. Three years later, the ministry defended itself after ABC News’“20/20″ reported on luxurious living by the Crouches, including private jets and mansions.

Most recently, Crouch’s ministry has been embroiled in litigation since his granddaughter and former chief financial officer, Brittany Koper, was fired in 2011 after questioning its high-cost personal expenditures. The Times said they included the purchase of a $100,000 motor home for Jan Crouch’s dogs.
After investigations by nonprofits and journalists over the years, Paul Crouch continued to draw criticism, especially for his embrace of prosperity gospel.
“Paul Crouch at TBN is the greatest proponent of the oldest heresy in the church — that gain is godliness,” said Ole Anthony, a founder of the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which has investigated Crouch’s ministries and others for more than 30 years. “All of the heresy connected with that position is what they’re based on and the problem is they’ve spread that all over the world.”
As it has since its start, TBN depends on donors. In addition to original Christian TV programs and faith-based films, there are “praise-a-thons,” music-filled events that last a week or two and raise money for the commercial-free network.
Over the years, TBN has expanded to become a group of networks, including Church Channel, a digital network that features Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen; Enlace, a Spanish-language affiliate; and “Smile of a Child,” which features children’s programming. All told, according to a ministry document, those networks air on more than 10,000 U.S. cable and broadcast affiliates.
Its holdings also include Trinity Music City, USA, in Hendersonville, Tenn.; an Irving, Texas production center where programs are translated from English; and the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando, Fla.
Even Crouch’s critics acknowledged his zeal to reach the world with the gospel message via the airwaves.
“Just imagine the kind of drive it took to create this humongous network and singleness of vision,” said Anthony. “That’s what he will best be remembered for.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at RNS.)
12/2/2013 5:19:37 PM by Adelle Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

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