Dutch man, 69, wants to legally change age because he ‘feels 49’

A Dutch man who feels his age is holding him back in business and dating has launched a legal battle to be legally recognised as 20 years younger.

Emile Ratelband, was born on 11 March 1949, but because he feels he is being discriminated against by potential employers and on dating sites, he wants to change his date of birth to 11 March 1969.

The 69-year-old compared his desire to be recognised as 20 years younger to transsexuals who want to be recognised as having being born in the opposite sex.

Young on the inside

Ratelband told a court in Arnhem he did not feel “comfortable” with his date of birth, and that his official age does not reflect his emotional state.

He said: “When I’m 69, I am limited. If I‘m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work.

He added that he thought the age change would help him be more successful on dating app Tinder.

He added that his doctors had told him he has the body of a 45-year-old.

Transgenderism

Ratelband claimed it was “a question of free will”, while his lawyer Jan-Hein Kuijpers said it was high time for age-reversal to be recognised in law.

Kuijpers was asked if changing legal age should require health inspections to assess a person’s “emotional age”. He responded that “something like common sense” should play a part.

The judge agreed that because of pushes to recognise transgenderism, what was once a legal impossibility is now law.

When Ratelband announced he wanted to legally change his age, he said “thousands” of people on social media expressed their support, and that many will follow suit if the courts approve his request.

Transgenderism

In 2015, it was revealed that a 52-year-old Candian man with seven children had decided to identify as a six-year-old girl, and was living with his friends whom he referred to as his “adoptive mommy and daddy”.

He dresses as a child and plays with his friend’s grandchildren.

He said: “In my mind I was never allowed to be a little girl so I’m filling that tank of little girl experiences.”

Great Move of the Holy Spirit Erupts in Sicily

(Shaneen Clarke/Instagram)

A great move of the Holy Spirit has erupted like Mount Etna on the Island of Sicily. I visited there last weekend to speak in Palermo at Ministero Saron, led by Pastors Eliseo and Lina Siino.

I was greeted by major flooding in the area, though the waters did not prevent my reaching the platform. The spiritual hunger of the Italian men, women and children was evident throughout the weekend. The Italians are not only renowned for their passion, but their great culture adds to the mix, and their enthusiasm for Christ and for seeing a move of the Holy Spirit was exciting.

The Italian connection I have witnessed in Rome, Turin and Palermo, being also in Congress, proves that there is a major awakening taking place in Italy and blazing a fire across Europe. Italy is, of course, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, and to see the increase in the charismatic Catholic and Pentecostal movements brings a vibrancy not to be dismissed.

This new freedom within the presence of God has liberated the religious through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, releasing those from religion to relationship. Report and testimonies since my return have been well received, and it was particularly moving to witness the worship of the youngsters.

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The migration of Italians to America in the late 19th and 20th centuries has blessed America, and it is no accident to see their historical footprint across the globe. The Roman Empire’s influence in architecture, cuisine, design and art has been a major contributor to the world in which we now live. The South American nations of Brazil and Argentina birthed the Pentecostal movement there, and Pietro Ottolini started the “unforgettable moment” of the Pentecostal movement within Italy on Sept. 15, 1907.

It was the faith of the Roman centurion that moved Jesus, and it is that faith which I saw at the weekend in Palermo that is the foundation of the move now occurring. Watch out for revival coming out of Italy.

Shaneen Clarke is an author, international speaker and humanitarian for justice.

A Place for Death in the Life of the Church

A Place for Death in the Life of the Church

Image: Claire Streatfield / Getty

What does faithful ministry look like in a church that sees more funerals than baptisms?

Iremember the first time I touched a dead body. It was at my grandfather’s funeral. You know the scene: attendants in boxy black suits, the cloying scent of flowers, tissue boxes, breath mints, dusty funeral parlor furniture. As the sad murmur of relatives droned all around, I stepped up to the coffin and quickly reached in to touch his embalmed hands, folded nicely on his belly. They felt like cold, soft leather.

That was when death was still an anomaly to me, an outlier. Now it has become familiar, a recurring pattern in recent weeks and months. For the past several years, I’ve served as a pastor in a suburban parish, an evangelical who made his home in a mainline church. I don’t run the show, since I’m a lay pastor, but I’ve been there for most of the funerals. In the past few years we’ve had almost 40 in our parish. Those are a lot of faces I won’t get to see any more on Sunday mornings. Death is no longer a stranger to me; it is a regular part of my life.

This has been one of the more difficult parts of being a pastor, seeing people who faithfully served our Lord over decades take ill and start a steep decline. These deaths don’t have the shock of tragedy, of teenagers hit by cars or babies born without breath. Still, the dull ache of sorrow is there.

It wasn’t always this way for me. I grew up in a thriving megachurch (by Canadian standards, anyways), and I took it for granted that slowly and surely our congregation would continue to expand. And it did, all through my teen years. As I looked out over the congregation on Sunday mornings, I could see a diverse group of people from ages 15 to 60. But children were most often annexed to their age-appropriate ministries, seniors were few and far between, and funerals were not a constant. The bulk of our congregants were in the prime of life.

Later, when I began my pastoral ministry in a congregation that skewed to those over 65, I became frustrated as our church struggled to thrive. Growth no longer just seemed to happen. And though we saw many young families drawn deeper into the life of Christ, we also lost many veteran saints. I learned to care for the very young as our nursery filled up, and I learned to walk with the aging as they lost the strength to sit in our pews.

By embracing death in our churches, we allow our creator to give meaning to our human weakness.

Though I looked longingly at congregations that seemed to expand effortlessly, I learned to love the slow work of pastoring a struggling congregation. I took in the beauty of a woman in her 80s dancing with toddlers and singing worship songs. And I remember the 70th wedding anniversary of a couple that faithfully attended worship for just as many years. These quiet miracles don’t have the same luster as other “vibrant” ministries I’ve been a part of, but nonetheless, they witness to the patience and love of God. I came to appreciate the church as the body of Christ formed of the whole people of God, from young to old—even those heading to their graves.

Pastoring an Aging Congregation

Death does not fall outside the life of Christ’s Body; it is a threshold through which we all must walk. Recognizing death as part of our common Christian life allows for a more expansive vision of God’s redemption, which begins the day we are conceived and carries us into our dying.

I’ve come to appreciate my close experiences with death. When I look at large, booming churches or hip, thriving church plants, I wonder if their pastors experience the regular privilege of burying octogenarians. I’m glad for these growing churches, insofar as people are having encounters with Christ and his Word. I wish so many of the churches in my denomination would thrive like that. Yet I’m learning to appreciate aging congregations like my own in which the whole community of faith mourns with the death of each faithful servant.

I recently read Kate Bowler’s book, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. Bowler was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at age 35. She was enjoying a vibrant career, academic success, and a wonderful home with her husband and toddler. The news of her cancer seemed to crush all of that. Life had to be put on hold for chemo, rest, and preparation for dying.

She writes in her memoir about churches in which blessings come as the direct result of fierce faith. She writes, “The prosperity gospel is a theodicy, an explanation for the problem of evil. It is an answer to the questions that take our lives apart. … The prosperity gospel looks at the world as it is and promises a solution. It guarantees that faith will always make a way.” Bowler writes that she tacitly held to a tamer form of prosperity gospel logic. She expected that, if she followed Jesus, things would go pretty well because God loves her and wants her to have a good life.

I often find myself believing the same thing about my church: if we worship Jesus and do his will, he will bless us with new members and increased vitality. Stagnant membership and death in the congregation feel like punishments for lack of faith.

But God throws wrenches in the wheels of our theological systems. We get fired. We get divorced. We get sick. We die.

Our local congregations lose their liveliness. They suffer from conflicts. They struggle to raise funds. They shrink.

Christians believe that “death is swallowed up in victory” (Isa. 25:8, 1 Cor. 15:54). Our faith is built upon the fact that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. But our experience of death is not always so straightforward. Our sojourn still leads to our bodies being cremated or placed in a coffin.

Helping People Reckon with Death

In many churches I’ve attended, death was pushed to the margins. It was treated like an interruption to God’s work in the world, not as an instrument by which God draws people more fully into his own life. I’m not saying we should love death—after all, it’s still “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). But part of living as disciples is learning to die well.

Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College, writes,

“To die well” is to locate what is good somewhere outside our control—in the God who gives and receives our lives. It is also to allow that alien goodness, the goodness of God’s transcendent superintendence over life and its temporal duration, to inform the very meaning of our vulnerability to illness, suffering, and death.

In other words, by embracing death in our churches, we allow our creator to give meaning to our human weakness.

Stanley Hauerwas notes in God, Medicine, and Suffering that Western culture shifted from preparing Christians to die well in the medieval period to franticly attempting to cure us from death in contemporary society. He writes, “We have no communal sense of a good death, and as a result death threatens us, since it represents our absolute loneliness.” According to Hauerwas, we need to learn once again how to grapple with our mortality.

Stories like Bowler’s, then, make me wonder about the kind of church we ought to be. What might it mean to be a church where people regularly come face to face with death? How can we present the gospel in a way that changes hearts, but also ministers to people whose earthly lives will never return to “normal?”

What in the world is Dinner Church, and how could its concepts help your church?

One way in which pastors can deal with death is by talking about it openly in sermons and in conversation. I remember talking with a friend who has since passed away from cancer. He told me that many of the Christians he encountered didn’t want him to talk about the possibility of death. They wanted him to stay positive, focusing on things he could do to get better. He knew that he wouldn’t, but he felt the pressure to stay positive for the sake of others. When I talked frankly with him about the possibility of death, he seemed to breathe easier. In naming death, he allowed the grace of God to come to him even there.

We talk about illness and aging as “battles”; to die is to lose these battles. But staying alive is a battle we all lose eventually—some quickly, some slowly—so we might as well invite God’s presence into our dying. In the cross we understand our living and our dying. What better place to learn this than the church? Who better to initiate these conversations than pastors? Sure, I want my church to be dynamic, vibrant, growing; I pray to God for this. But I also want to cultivate a church where people can reckon with death, worshiping a savior who won his victory hanging from nails pinned to a wooden cross.

God Sent Donald Trump to Prepare the Church for the End Times, Jim Bakker Says

Christian End Times prepper Jim Bakker said that God told him He put Donald Trump on this earth to give the church time to prepare for the impending end.

On a television broadcast, the well-known End Time prepper asked the audience if they had ever seen so much hatred for a political leader. Bakker said, “Have you ever seen a time when we hate our president like the people do now?” He added, “Literally half the nation hates the president and would probably kill him if they got a chance.”

During the broadcast, Bakker noted that he prayed to God asking Him why the current climate is as hostile as it is.

According to the televangelist, God answered him by pointing to the book of Revelation. Bakker said God told him “you are in Revelation, Chapter 6,” which speaks of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. According to the End Times prepper, God told him that the first horse of the Apocalypse is beginning to ride on the earth.

Bakker said, “There is such a hatred for the gospel. This is the Antichrist spirit loose,” and for this reason, “God has given us a man who is not afraid to fight. We have a president people think is crazy. They call him crazy, but he’s making peace treaties, he’s doing all the things to try to solve the world’s problems and God has put him on earth—God spoke to me the other night, He said, ‘I put Donald Trump on earth to give you time, the church, to get ready.’”

According to Belief Net, Bakker is not the first among his contemporaries to believe the rapture, that is broken down in the book of Revelation, is coming soon. Belief Net reports that many other prominent Christians are theorizing this too based on international conflicts and lack of faith among people, among other things.

God Sent Donald Trump to Prepare the Church for the End Times, Jim Bakker Says

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Pool

Video courtesy: RWW Blog

Church Leaders in Nigeria Not Giving Up on Rescue of Leah Sharibu

Parents in Chibok, Nigeria mourn the loss of girls kidnapped in 2014. (VOA)

Parents in Chibok, Nigeria mourn the loss of girls kidnapped in 2014. (VOA)

JOSNigeria (Morning Star News) – Following the announcement by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram that it will keep a Christian high school girl as a slave, church leaders in Nigeria said they are not giving up on pressing for her rescue.

Leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) have intensified discussions with government officials urging that they continue talks with Boko Haram to win the release of 15-year-old Leah Sharibu and other Christian girls and women being held captive by Boko Haram, an ECWA spokesman told Morning Star News.

“The leadership of ECWA has continued to mount pressure on the Nigerian government to continue with discussions with the Islamists who are holding Leah Sharibu captive,” the Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi said. “We strongly believe that as long as Leah and others are still alive, it is possible to secure their release.”

Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, is also holding Christian UNICEF worker Alice Ngaddah as a slave. Kidnapped along with two other aid workers in March, Ngaddah is a member of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN).

“The church and Leah’s parents believe that God can make it possible for Leah and others in captivity to regain their freedom if we don’t give up,” Ebenwokodi said. “The hope in Jesus Christ, which is the hope of glory, has kept Leah’s parents going and sustained the church on her knees. We shall continue to pray without ceasing until this faithful servant of Christ and others like her who are being held captive are released.”

Boko Haram last month killed an aid worker as an “apostate” from Islam and vowed to keep Leah and Ngaddah as slaves. Leah, kidnapped along with more than 100 schoolgirls from Dapchi, Yobe state in February but not released with the others because she refused to convert to Islam, will never be freed because Boko Haram’s Islamic law allows “infidels” to be kept as slaves, according to a statement by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), commonly known as Boko Haram.

“Based on our doctrines, it is now lawful for us to do whatever we want to do with them,” the group said.

The group executed Hauwa Leman, an aid worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as seen on the video.

Boko Haram has not made known its demands for the release of the hostages, but Nigerian newspaper The Herald, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, reported that the group has demanded 100 billion naira (US$275,000) for Leah.

Government officials fear Boko Harm will use the money to acquire upgraded weapons systems, according to the Herald source, who has been involved in negotiations for Leah’s release. Though the government says it is doing everything possible to secure her release, the source told the Herald that giving such a large amount to Boko Haram could hurt national security ahead of February 2019 general elections, as the terrorists would use the weapons on Nigerian citizens.

In September Boko Haram killed Saifura Ahmed, one of the three humanitarian workers abducted in March in Rann, Borno state.

In its statement, the Boko Haram group said, “Saifura and Hauwa were killed because they are considered as Murtads [apostates] by the group because they were once Muslims that have abandoned their Islam, the moment they chose to work with the Red Cross, and for us, there is no difference between Red Cross and UNICEF…If we see them, we will kill the apostates among them, men or women, and chose to kill or keep the infidels as slaves, men or women.”

Leah was the only Christian among more than 100 high school girls kidnapped from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, on Feb. 19. The other girls were released in March.

Government representatives and advocates within Nigeria, along with the international community have called for her release.

Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, according to CNN.

About 100 of 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok, in Borno state, in 2014 are still missing.

Boko Haram, whose name is loosely translated as, “Western education is a sin,” has fought for more than nine years to impose Islamic law on all of Nigeria, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing more than 2 million. Boko Haram militants reportedly warned parents of the returned Dapchi girls not to send their daughters back to school.

In 2015 the Nigerian military began taking back most of the territory Boko Haram had controlled, but many areas remain, and the terrorists are still mounting isolated attacks. Jubilee Campaign reports that, according to figures from the Stefanos Foundation, Boko Haram in 2017 took responsibility for attacks that claimed more than 650 lives.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

US Missionary Shot to Death in Front of His Wife, Son

An American missionary was shot to death this week in Cameroon while riding in the car with his wife and son.

Charles Wesco of Indiana was out to shop when two bullets struck him through the windshield, according to Dave Halyaman, assistant pastor at Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Indiana.

The bullets knocked Wesco unconscious, and doctors were unable to revive him at the hospital.

Believers Baptist Church “is grieving greatly the murder of Charles Wesco, but we are also trusting God that he has a purpose in all of this,” Halyaman says.

Halyaman says officials are unsure who shot the missionary. According to The Washington Post, the area is strife with violence.

Unrest broke out in that region in late 2016 over complaints that the Anglophone community was being marginalized by Cameroon’s central government, which is largely controlled by French speakers. The country is bilingual, but Francophones have historically held more governmental power than English speakers. Security forces stifled peaceful protests in the Anglophone regions, and an armed separatist movement emerged. Around 400 civilians have been killed in violence in the country’s two Anglophone regions. Tens of thousands have fled the country as refugees and others are now internally displaced.

According to the Indy Star:

Military spokesman Col. Didier Badjeck told the AP the military killed at least four suspects in Wesco’s death and arrested many others. He did not specify if the people detained were military personnel or separatists.

Cameroon’s military said last week after launching attacks on suspected separatist training grounds that “many have been killed.” The attacks happened the day after President Paul Biya was declared the winner of a seventh term.

The increased violence began after the government clamped down on demonstrations by English-speaking teachers and lawyers protesting what they called their marginalization by Cameroon’s French-speaking majority.

Armed factions emerged after the government crackdown and have been using violence to push for an independent state they call “Ambazonia.”

Wesco and his wife, Stephanie, had just moved to the African nation about two weeks ago.

“He was really wound up about everything. He was really excited about everything and well, he is a hard worker,” says Rebecca Wesco, Wesco’s mother.

Wesco’s brother. Tim, is a Republican representative for the state of Indiana.

Tim says, “He loved the Lord. He loved people. The Lord giveth. The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

“My husband already prayed for his killer,” Rebecca says. “Charles would want us to do that, he would.”

In a prayer letter dated September/October, the family writes:

“We are humbled to be here representing Christ on your behalf, and we trust that you are upholding us before the Lord in prayer regularly! Your continued prayers are vital, if we are to be successful in bringing the gospel to this dark place!”

The Wescos’ testimony is available here.

NATIONAL SECURITY ‘Tent cities’ could work, says CIS

The head of an immigration enforcement think tank is praising President Trump’s effort to deal with the approaching migrant caravan.

President Trump has announced a major change in U.S. asylum policy, declaring that the government will no longer allow migrants who jump the border to turn around and claim asylum in an attempt to gain a foothold here. He pledged to end the “catch and release” practice that has led to the arrests of hundreds of thousands of migrants in recent years at the border — migrants who were then turned loose into the country to await future hearings.

“Generally speaking, the president’s made it clear that he’s going to set up detention tents — tent cities — the kind of thing the military is probably going to do because they’ve done this before,” details Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). “So this is something they can do, and that’s important because there’s a real bottleneck in detention space.”

And Krikorian believes being forced to stay in tents might be a deterrent to some migrants.

“If you’re detaining people who apply for asylum, and you detain them the entire time that their case is working through immigration court, it’s a lot less appealing for people with bogus cases to try apply for asylum,” he submits.

It is all about getting to the border and asking for asylum.

“Even though almost none of them really would end up getting asylum if they went through the whole process, it does help them get past the border and past the Border Patrol, and that’s the goal,” says Krikorian. “The goal is applying for asylum, not getting asylum.”

And he believes most of them will get to stay in the U.S.