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Posts tagged ‘Austria’

FBI Joins Possible Terror Probe for Missing Malaysia Jet.


Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane’s doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the investigation into two passengers who boarded the aircraft with stolen passports.

More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found, and the final minutes before it disappeared remained a mystery. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper cited Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam’s army, as saying searchers in a low-flying plane had spotted an object suspected of being a door from the missing jet. It was found in waters about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

“From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane,” Tuan said. Thanh Nien said two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal — unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar indicated that the plane may have turned back, but did not give further details on which direction it went or how far it veered off course.

“We are trying to make sense of this,” Daud said at a news conference. “The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back, and in some parts this was corroborated by civilian radar.”

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots are supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does a U-turn. “From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per se, so we are equally puzzled,” he said.

Authorities were checking on the identities of the two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight’s manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

“I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. “We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board.”

Hishammuddin declined to give further details, saying it may jeopardize the investigation.

“Our focus now is to find the aircraft,” he said, adding that finding the plane would make it easier for authorities to investigate any possible foul play.

Interpol confirmed that at least two stolen passports used by passengers on the plane were registered in its databases. It said no one had checked the databases, but added that most airlines and countries do not usually check for stolen passports.

Hishammuddin said only two passengers had used stolen passports, and that earlier reports that the identities of two others were under investigation were not true.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said the U.S. was looking into the stolen passports, but that investigators had reached no conclusions.

In addition to the plane’s sudden disappearance, which experts say is consistent with a possible onboard explosion, the stolen passports have strengthened concerns about terrorism as a possible cause. Al-Qaida militants have used similar tactics to try and disguise their identities.

Still, other possible causes would seem just as likely at this stage, including a catastrophic failure of the plane’s engines, extreme turbulence, or pilot error or even suicide. Establishing what happened with any certainty will need data from flight recorders and a detailed examination of any debris, something that will take months if not years.

European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel. Police in Thailand said Maraldi’s passport was stolen on the island of Phuket last July.

A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed that “Maraldi” and “Kozel” were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8.

She said since the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, she had no information on where they bought them.

Having onward reservations to Europe from Beijing would have meant the pair, as holders of EU passports, would not have needed visas for China.

Meanwhile, the multinational search for the missing plane was continuing. A total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships have been deployed to the area by Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the United States, in addition to Vietnam’s fleet.

Vietnamese air force jets spotted two large oil slicks Saturday, but it was unclear whether they were linked to the missing plane.

Two-thirds of the jet’s passengers were Chinese. The rest were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

After more than 30 hours without contact with the aircraft, Malaysia Airlines told family members they should “prepare themselves for the worst,” Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director for the airline, told reporters.

Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, wreckage can be scattered over many square kilometers (miles). If the plane enters the water before breaking up, there can be relatively little debris.

A team of American experts was en route to Asia to be ready to assist in the investigation into the crash. The team includes accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, the safety board said in a statement.

Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed last July in San Francisco, killing three passengers, all Chinese teenagers.

© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

Three ‘Slave’ Women Held for 30 Years Rescued from London House.


Three women enslaved for 30 years have been rescued from a house in London including one who has spent her entire life in domestic servitude, police said on Thursday.

Officers, who arrested a man and a woman, both 67, at their south London home, described it as the worst case of servitude to have emerged in the British capital.

Police said they did not believe the women – a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old from Ireland and a 30-year-old Briton – were related and there was no evidence of sexual abuse. It was not clear where the youngest of the three was born.

The women appeared to have had limited freedom over the years but it was not until one victim summoned the courage to call a charity on Oct. 18 after watching a BBC documentary featuring an anti-slavery campaigner that they came to light.

After building trust with workers at Freedom Charity, the two younger women met with charity staff and police on Oct. 25 and led them to the house where they rescued the third woman and all three were taken to safety.

The case was kept secret until Thursday’s arrests of two people described as non-British nationals on suspicion of being involved in forced labor and domestic servitude. The man and woman remain in custody.

“These women are highly traumatized, having been held in servitude for at least 30 years with no real exposure to the outside world, and, trying to find out exactly what has happened over three decades will understandably take some time,” Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland said in a statement.

“Our unit deals with many cases every year but has never unearthed such a staggering example of people held against their will for their whole lifetime.”

He added this was not a common case in Britain but urged anyone else in similar circumstances to come forward.

The fate of the women evoked memories of lengthy abductions in the United States and Austria.

 

SCARED FOR THEIR LIVES

Hyland said the trail to the women began on Oct. 21 when the Freedom Charity reported a call to police from a woman who said she had been held against her will in the house for more than 30 years.

“The relationship between the women is part of an ongoing investigation and we are not willing to speculate. However, we believe that the 30-year-old woman had been in servitude all her life,” he said.

Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom Charity that works on issues including forced marriage, said it took a lot of courage for the women to come forward as they were terrified.

“They had been trying for a number of years to work out a way to leave,” Prem told Reuters, declining to give details on the location of the house. “People will be shocked this can happen in the UK and in a capital city like London.”

She added that neighbors had not reported noticing anything untoward happening at the property that was “an ordinary house in an ordinary street”.

The women were doing “remarkably well” physically and mentally under the circumstances, Prem said. “This will be a very long haul for them to try to return to a normal life.”

In the United States, former bus driver Ariel Castro was convicted in August of the abduction, torture and decade-long confinement of three women. He was found hanged in his cell at an Ohio prison in September.

That followed two infamous cases in Austria.

Natascha Kampusch was found in 2006 after being kidnapped at the age of 10 by Wolfgang Priklopil and held captive for eight years. In 2009, Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life in prison after keeping his daughter Elisabeth captive in a cellar for 24 years and fathering seven children with her.

Last month, the first Global Slavery Index revealed there were nearly 30 million people living as slaves in 162 countries and that Britain was not immune to the problem.

Although ranked 160th on the list, there were still estimated to be more than 4,000 slaves in Britain, an estimate that the index judged to be conservative.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Dissident Catholic Priests Push for Church Reforms.


VIENNA — A new international network of reformist Roman Catholic priests is pushing to give lay people a bigger role in a Church that Pope Francis wants to bring closer to grassroots members.

Speaking as dissidents from six countries met in Austria on Friday for the first time, clergyman Helmut Schueller said the Church should draw on people in local parishes that are under threat of vanishing as the ranks of the priesthood dwindle.

The outspoken views of Schueller, head of a group of Austrian priests who openly challenge Church positions on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and ordaining women, drew a rebuke last year from Pope Benedict, who resigned in February.

Church liberals are now placing their hopes in his successor Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years and the first ever from Latin America.

Urgent: Will Jesus Ever Return? Some Are Wondering 

“We want to address the most burning issue: the future of the communities. We want to be there for them, and their future is in danger from the shortage of priests,” Schueller, 61, said in a telephone interview from the western town of Bregenz.

Francis is focusing on top-down change like reforming the Curia, or central administration, which is accused of being dysfunctional and riven with infighting that is blamed for much of the turmoil that plagued Benedict’s papacy.

The Church has also seen its global reputation badly tarnished by child sex abuse and financial scandals and has suffered steep declines in church attendance, especially in its historic heartlands in Europe.

The vast majority of Roman Catholics engage with the Church in their parishes, so big problems loom if its web of faith communities at the local level is broken.

SUPPORT

Schueller’s group enjoys broad support in Austria for its pledge to break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and allowing divorced Catholics who remarry.

His plans to build an international network has drawn representatives of around 3,500 priests in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, and the United States to Bregenz.

Schueller is pushing for new forms of parish leadership that promote men and women from within the community at a time when the Church struggles to find enough priests for every parish.

“I think there has to be an important change in the hierarchical structure,” he said.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have long challenged the conservative policies championed by Benedict, creating protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican firmly rejects.

Now that Francis has adopted a more tolerant tone, the time is ripe to press for liberalization, Schueller said.

“We have to work more towards him from the grassroots to strengthen and [put into] practice these changes. The mood at the moment is problematic. Lots of Catholic priests limit themselves to watching what the Pope will say and do,” he said.

Schueller said he did not even rule out that Francis might one day depart from the Church’s traditional stance that only men can be ordained since Jesus picked only men as his apostles.

Urgent: Will Jesus Ever Return? Some Are Wondering 

“[Francis] said in a very matter of fact way that the door [to women priests] is closed. That makes many conclusions possible. A door can be opened again, it is not sealed off,” he said, but conceded such a big cultural change would take time.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

UN: Israel-Syria Cease-fire Jeopardized by Golan Violence.


UNITED NATIONS — A spillover of violence from Syria’s civil war into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is jeopardizing a decades old cease-fire between Israel and Syria, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.

Ban recommended to the 15-member council that self defense capabilities of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the area, known as UNDOF, be enhanced, “including increasing the force strength to about 1,250 and improving its self defense equipment.”

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in a 1967 war, and the countries technically remain at war. Syrian troops are not allowed in an area of separation under a 1973 cease-fire formalized in 1974.

UNDOF monitors the area of separation, a narrow strip of land running 45 miles (70 kilometers) from Mount Hermon on the Lebanese border to the Yarmouk River frontier with Jordan.

“The ongoing military activities in the area of separation continue to have the potential to escalate tensions between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic and to jeopardize the cease-fire between the two countries,” Ban said.

The 15-member Security Council is due later this month to renew the mandate of UNDOF for six months. Ban recommended that the force, which has been operating with about 900 troops, be boosted to its authorized strength of 1,250.

The peacekeeping mission has been caught in the middle of fighting in the Golan Heights area of separation, which had been largely quiet since the cease-fire. Stray shells and bullets have also landed on the Israeli-controlled side and Israeli troops have fired shells into Syria in response.

“The presence of the [Syrian army] and unauthorized military equipment in the area of separation is a grave violation of the 1974 Agreement of Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces,” Ban said in the report. “[Israeli] retaliatory fire across the cease-fire line is also a serious violation.”

“Any Israeli military action inside Syria puts the ceasefire at risk. I call upon Israel to exercise maximum restraint to prevent an escalation of the situation,” he said.

NO NEED FOR RUSSIAN TROOPS

Last week two peacekeepers were wounded when Syrian rebels captured a border post, but were then driven out by Syrian government troops, while rebels have also detained peacekeepers on several different occasions before releasing them.

Japan and Croatia have already withdrawn troops from UNDOF due to the violence and Austria started bring home its contingent of some 380 troops on Wednesday, as the United Nations urgently tried to find another country to fill the gap.

About 170 Fijian troops are due to deploy later this month to replace the Croatian troops, the United Nations has said.

A senior Western diplomat said that Fiji had also offered to send additional troops and that the Philippines, which already has some 340 troops in UNDOF, was considering sending more troops after Ban lobbied Manila. India is also a part of UNDOF with nearly 200 troops.

Russia has offered to replace Austria’s troops, but the agreement with Israel and Syria precludes permanent members of the U.N. Security Council from taking part.

A U.N. official told Reuters that sufficient offers had already been made from other countries to fill the gap that will be left by Austria’s departure.

About 70 Austrian soldiers were due to return home on Wednesday and the United Nations said they were continuing talks with Vienna on a timetable for withdrawing its remaining troops.

Austria plans to bring all its troops home by the end of June but diplomats said Ban asked them to delay that by one month.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Syrian Rebel Offensive in Golan Jolts Israel.


QUNEITRA, Golan Heights — Syrian rebels briefly seized control of a border crossing along the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights on Thursday, prompting the withdrawal of a major Austrian peacekeeping contingent and heightening fears in Israel that it could soon be dragged into the neighboring country’s civil war.

From the Israeli side of the Golan, Syrian tanks and armored vehicles could be seen across the border. Large explosions could be heard throughout the day, and thick smoke and flames rose from the area. Israeli TV stations showed images of Israeli tourists flocking to the Golan to look across the frontier and gawk at the fighting.

Israeli troops along the border were on high alert, although the military said no special actions had been taken in response to the escalation.

By nightfall, the situation appeared to be quieting down. Israel’s deputy defense minister, Danny Danon, said forces remained on high alert, but no special actions had been taken.

“We are following very carefully what’s happening in Syria,” Danon told The Associated Press. “We will do whatever is necessary to protect the interests of Israel.”

Israel fears that Islamic militants who have joined the rebel ranks in trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad will turn their guns toward Israel if they topple the Syrian leader.

Islamic groups are believed to be active in the fighting in the Golan area. Israel has also expressed concerns that Assad’s sophisticated weapons, could slip into the hands of hostile groups, including Assad’s ally, Hezbollah.

The Jewish state has kept a wary eye on the fighting next door since the conflict erupted in March 2011 and in recent months has been bolstering its forces in the area and reinforcing a fence along the frontier.

The rebels overran the border position near the abandoned town of Quneitra early Thursday, holding their positions for several hours before Syrian government troops retook it. The international peacekeepers who maintain a 40-year-old truce receive most of their supplies through that position from Israel.

Fierce gunbattles forced peacekeepers to seek shelter in a nearby base, and the Philippine military said one of its men serving in the force was wounded in the leg when a mortar or artillery shell struck the area. U.N. diplomats said an Indian peacekeeper also was injured.

In Vienna, Austrian leaders said the fighting made it necessary to withdraw their troops.

Defense Minister Gerhard Klug said he expected the withdrawal to be done within two to four weeks, but it is possible to complete it “within a few hours” if new violence threatened the soldiers’ security.

“For the first time, it was not possible for the Syrian government to guarantee proper support of the U.N.,” he said.

The decision dealt a heavy to blow to the 911-member U.N. force, which includes the 377 Austrian peacekeepers as well as 341 from the Philippines and 193 from India. Croatia withdrew its contingent in March amid fears they would be targeted.

Israel and Syria agreed to creation of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force after Syria launched military action in 1973 in a failed effort to retake the Golan, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations is urgently looking for troops to replace Austrians and warned that any military activity in the zone separating Israeli and Syrian forces could jeopardize the long-held cease-fire.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it regretted Austria’s decision and hoped that it would not lead to “further escalation in the region.” It said it expected the United Nations to uphold its commitment.

Israeli military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under military protocol, said several Syrians wounded in fighting were brought into Israel for medical treatment.

Others who entered Israel were returned through alternative sites. It was not clear whether the wounded were fighters or civilians.

Israeli military officials said several errant shells landed in Israeli-controlled territory. Although no injuries were reported, the military restricted access to a main road running along the border for several hours and ordered farmers with fields in the area to remain indoors.

Nadav Katz, 65, of Kibbutz Merom Golan, a communal farm near the crossing, said the area was covered with smoke and residents could hear gunfire and mortar shells exploding nearby.

“We are concerned that things might evolve into something much harsher that will affect us,” said Katz. “We like the idea that for 40 years the area was peaceful and quiet. Tourists have been coming, fields have been cultivated and children were born,” he said.

Katz said he trusted Israel’s army to defend the area, but residents felt betrayed by the fleeing U.N. troops. More than anything, though, he said people viewed the Syrian fighting as a terrible event. “People are simply sad over the slaughter,” he said.

Israeli military officials played down the significance of Thursday’s fighting. They said that Quneitra is important symbolically to Syria, given its history and location along a main route to Damascus.

The town has been largely abandoned since the 1967 war, though the crossing is sometimes opened to allow Druse residents to export produce or cross into Syria to study or to marry their brethren.

Israeli officials say they have no interest in taking sides or getting involved in the fighting.

But the military has intervened on several occasions, firing at targets inside Syria in response to shelling that landed in the Israeli-side of the Golan.

In one such incident last month, Syrian troops targeted an Israeli jeep they said had crossed the cease-fire line into the Syria-controlled sector. Syria said it launched two missiles in self-defense, accusing Israel of violating the cease-fire deal.

The Israeli air force has also carried out several airstrikes in recent months on weapons shipments believed to be headed to Hezbollah.

Fighting between Assad’s forces and mainly Sunni rebels has already spilled over Syria’s borders into Turkey and Lebanon, where factions that support opposing sides have frequently clashed.

Moshe Maoz, a Syria expert at the Hebrew University, played down Thursday’s incident. He called it a small victory for the Surian military and said little would change even if the rebels gained control of the crossing.

“It’s symbolic, but neither al-Qaida nor the mainstream groups are going to shoot at Israel because they know Israel will retaliate very heavily,” he said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

With Sex Trafficking Rising in Europe, Missionaries Target Prostitutes.


sex trafficking
OM EAST has started to network with other agencies to stand against human trafficking.

Your prayers are needed for Austria.

Operation Mobilization (OM) says plans to build Europe’s largest brothel are in the works. Called the “FunMotel,” a large-scale brothel on the outskirts of Vienna would service 1000 customers a day in nearly 150 rooms.

The Austrian businessman behind this project reportedly claims the FunMotel will transform the sex industry from “grocer to supermarket.” Along with decreasing the social stigma attached to prostitution and brothels, an increase in market demand will put more women at risk of sex trafficking.

Ask the Lord to intervene in this situation. Pray the brothel won’t be built.

According to an April report from the European Commission, human trafficking is on the rise in Europe. Trafficking went up 18 percent between 2008 and 2010; this could be “the tip of the iceberg,” though, according to some EU officials.

A “clear majority” of victims in the European Commission’s report, some 61 percent, hail from a European Union nation. Most claimed citizenship in Romania or Bulgaria, the two poorest EU states.

OM EAST, an OM team supporting churches throughout Eurasia, brings the hope of Christ to Vienna’s prostitutes. Their claims support this finding, stating on the OM EAST website that every second prostitute in Greece and Austria is from Romania.

To try and turn the tide of this massive injustice, OM EAST is networking with other agencies on preventative measures like outreaches, meetings in Eastern European churches and schools, and good literature projects to strengthen families.

Please pray for those caught in the hopeless web of sex trafficking. Pray that the light of Christ will shine into their lives through OM workers. Pray that more will be done to protect women from this evil.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

MISSION NETWORK NEWS

What to Do When Leaders Fail You.


woman upset
(stockfreeimages.com)

Several years ago my husband and I led a short-term missions trip behind the Iron Curtain for 14 days. We were immersed in ministry and had no access to any form of news in English. By the time our ministry responsibilities ended, we were eager to get a copy of USA Today.

When we arrived in Austria, we bought a paper at the first newsstand we found. You can imagine the shock we felt when we opened it up and read the bold headline, “Famous Tele-evangelist Indicted for Fraud.” While we had been out of the country, this scandal had been chronicled in newspapers, magazines and the evening news.

As the days passed, failure after failure among Christian leaders was brought to the light. Many believers became so disturbed that they lost their ability to trust spiritual leaders. The local church as well as parachurch ministries began to suffer financially. Wonderful ministries that were run with integrity suffered as people withdrew their financial support.

The publicizing of the failures was a devastating blow to the body of Christ at large. But we should not be duped into thinking that the failures broadcast on the evening news and written about in the papers during that season are the only ones that have ever occurred in the church. Similar heartbreaking scenarios are happening right now in city after city across our nation.

Effects of a Leader’s Failure
We may not read about them in the headlines, but many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing a crisis in their local congregations. Presented with the agonizing truth that their leader has fallen into moral failure, they wonder what they should do.

First Corinthians 12:26 tells us that “if one member [of the body of Christ] suffers, all the members suffer with it” (NASB). The reality of this scripture rings loud and clear for those who have experienced a leader’s fall. Here are some of the ways we can be affected.

Basic trust is violated. How can we place our trust in people we know are subject to failure? Many believers have responded to this dilemma by choosing not to trust leaders at all. The problem with this response is that it leads to isolation and a cynical spirit.

Living behind a wall of mistrust robs us of an ability to receive impartation. We are no longer teachable, and we open ourselves up to deception and rebellion.

Several years ago, I was part of a ministry that interacted with numerous other well-known ministries in the body of Christ. I had great admiration for the leaders of these ministries, whom I had previously seen only from afar. Unfortunately, my interaction with many of them on a more personal level proved to be somewhat disappointing.

To be honest, I was shocked by the conversation and behavior of people I had considered to be spiritual giants. I was so disillusioned I began to wonder if there were any really holy people in leadership. Now I realize I was overreacting, but those were my true feelings at the time.

With my walls of mistrust firmly in place, I attended a Sunday morning worship service at a church I was visiting. The pastor preached a message about–you guessed it–trust!

He talked about “disillusionment.” The word disillusion means “to come to the end of an illusion.” In that moment, I realized that I had believed an illusion concerning leaders.

The illusion was that ministers should never say or do anything wrong. I had mistaken the anointing for proof of character. The reality is that we all fail, and we are all less than the anointing portrays us to be. My inability to recognize the humanity of my leaders set them up for failure. This simple revelation released me to trust leaders with the understanding that they–like the rest of us–are all flawed.

There is a difference, however, between a simple character flaw and participation in acts of sin such as adultery, homosexual relationships, financial fraud or abusive behavior. Committing such sins requires a process of repentance, correction, restoration and accountability over a period of time.

If your leader has fallen, it is not wrong for you to expect this process to occur. The fact that a leader is “only human” does not excuse him from his responsibility to God and the people.

Our ongoing vision is interrupted. Becoming aware of a leader’s failure can cause us to question everything we have learned under his leadership. Our initial response is a feeling of betrayal. The leader has not only failed the church in a corporate sense but has also failed us on a personal level.

It is natural to want to reject when we feel betrayed. But we have to understand that no one is all good or all bad. We must believe God’s Word in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV).

When my husband Steve and I were new believers, we were very hungry for ministry. We found a program on television called The PTL Club. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the hosts of this daily program. Even though they were somewhat flamboyant, we were drawn to them because of their love for God.

Our lives were greatly enriched by their teaching and sharing from their own lives. I identified with Tammy Faye because she shared her weaknesses on camera. She had a problem with fear just as I did. She helped me believe that if she could get free, so could I!

Millions of believers were blessed by the Bakkers’ ministry. When the couple was targeted by the secular media for destruction we did not want to believe the news stories. However, the close scrutiny did uncover legitimate financial mishandling and moral failures.

After recovering from the initial shock, I realized I could remain bitter and reject all I had received. Or I could hold fast to the good and leave the situation in God’s hands. In the final analysis, Jim and Tammy Faye really did love God and had a legitimate ministry. They simply had personal issues they did not yield to God’s dealing.

We have to recognize that we are all recipients of God’s grace. We cannot allow the agony of a leader’s fall to interfere with our progress in God. Another’s failure may sadden but should not paralyze us.

Being safe becomes too important. When a leader falls, shaking is inevitable. A leader is supposed to keep a steady hand on the helm so that the ship stays on course. When the leader creates the storm, we lose the steady hand, and the course becomes somewhat treacherous.

No one likes to feel insecure. After all, Hebrews 12:28 tells us that we “are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken.”

A few years ago our whole family went on a cruise. We had so much fun, we decided to make it an annual event.

Unfortunately, the night before we pulled back into port, an unexpected hurricane hit us at sea. The ship rolled and shook with great intensity. For 12 hours, we endured the shaking and pitching.

Even though we had nearly 4 days of great fun on perfect seas, those 12 hours made us reconsider our annual commitment. Personally, I want to have a guarantee in writing that the seas will be calm before I go again!

When a leader falls, the ship starts to rock. After the unsettling, many people want to make sure they never experience that kind of discomfort again. They usually do one of two things. They look for another church that lacks passion and relationship and places little demand on them. Or they stay where they are but become withdrawn and inactive.

In either case, they are attempting to keep themselves safe from hurt and disappointment. If your goal is to avoid risk, you will remain within safe boundaries. But your need to protect yourself is rooted in a spirit of fear. Once you give into fear, it becomes your master.

What Can You Do?
A leader’s failure begins a cascade effect that is difficult to halt. If we don’t respond properly to the situation, we can be caught up in the emotional climate that surrounds this kind of event. To avoid being one of the casualties, we should carefully consider our actions.

Pray, don’t talk. When shaking comes to a church or ministry due to a leader’s failure, everyone seems to have an opinion. And everyone wants to express his opinion. The problem is that opinions are often the seedbed of misinformation and wrong judgment.

Judgment comes out of prayerlessness, but the spirit of restoration is birthed in times of intercession. Discernment is heightened by spending time in the presence of the Lord. Because of the rumors that proliferate, discernment is very important.

My mother always told me, “Don’t be a part of the problem; be a part of the solution.” Her advice applies here. Too much talking will make you a part of the problem, but prayer will allow you to pour out all your hurt, disappointment and frustration to the only One who can bring good out of the bad.

Go to spiritual authority. During periods of upheaval in the church, we need to hear from those who have been placed in a position of spiritual authority in our lives. If your pastor has fallen and there is no authority substructure, it is important for you to find an impartial voice to help you keep on course.

Wait on God. Sometimes our initial response in these situations is to run. But leaving a hard place without God’s direction will lead us only to another hard place. The Lord may tell you to make a change, but be certain you have heard from God. This is a time to examine the vision again and determine if you are still part of it.

Remember, the goal of correction is restoration. When our commitment is based on God’s word, we must be faithful to Him and hold steady until restoration occurs.

If circumstances are as they should be, there will be a plan in place to deal with a leader’s fall–an accountability structure to bring order. In a denominational setting, there will be many overseers who can be called upon. In an independent church order, there will normally be a group of leaders who are committed to making themselves available during a time of crisis.

In all cases this structure should allow for leaders to be held accountable, corrected and restored. Even during a crisis, proper order will help keep the safety net in place. In such a setting fallen leaders can be covered as they are going through the dealings of God.

The unfortunate reality is that many churches’ structures do not allow for this type of accountability and restoration process. Even in some denominational environments, leaders are abandoned and removed for failure without an opportunity to be restored. I know of some leaders who desperately want to be delivered but cannot let anyone know their situation for fear of losing their reputation or livelihood.

When a leader falls, the most important thing for you to do is guard your heart and your behavior. If you aren’t familiar with your church structure regarding correction and restoration, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, but be certain you are a committed member and have a meek and humble spirit when asking.

Last of all, don’t give up on the church! God is raising up a generation of leaders and believers who welcome relationship and accountability. If you allow the crisis to take you under, you could miss a great moment in history. When leaders fall, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We can trust Him to make us a glorious bride.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

SHIRLEY ARNOLD


Shirley Arnold is pastor, along with her husband, Steve, of TLC Family Church in Lakeland, Fla. They have also established The Spirit Life School of Theology, The Secret Place Associated Network of Ministries and The Secret Place Training Facility. She is the author of several books and ministers in churches and conferences around the world.

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