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Posts tagged ‘Freedom House’

Freedom House Church Apologizes for ‘Only White People’ Comment.

Freedom House Church
Freedom House Church (WBTV)

Charisma News reported Tuesday that Freedom House Church in Charlotte, N.C., asked “only white people” to greet at its front doors in an effort to “bring [the church‘s] racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line.”

The church has apologized for the incident and sent Charisma News the following statement:

“One of our longtime pastors, in keeping with our church’s desire to be inclusive and intentionally reach out to all races, noticed our front door greeting team was no longer reflecting the racial diversity of our entire congregation, and she wanted potential visitors to see people like themselves upon entering our church,” the statement says.

“However, she made an error in judgment in requesting all white greeters at the front door, going overboard in placing emphasis on any one race over another in trying to highlight diversity within the greeting team. She admits this was a grave lapse in judgment and is sincerely sorry for her actions. She immediately apologized and has asked our forgiveness. She and senior pastors have made themselves available to meet with any church members who want to discuss this situation with them, and have communicated their true heart in this matter—to be a church welcoming and inclusive to all.

“Freedom House believes in a diverse relationship within its membership, reflecting the larger community in which the church resides, doing life together as a church representative of everyone—culturally, ethnically, economically and generationally.”



Egypt Leadership Criticized on Two-Year Anniversary of Mubarak’s Downfall.

Freedom House issued a statement on Monday condemning Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s policies as a continuation of former President Hosni Mubarak‘s. The statement came on the two-year anniversary of Mubarak’s downfall.

In addition, the Associated Press reported protests breaking out in Tahrir Square, where security forces attempted to disperse them.

Following is the latest information on the social unrest in Egypt.

Democracy activism organization says Egyptian police “brutal”, act with “impunity”

The report from Nancy Okail, Director of Freedom House Egypt, said that there were 1,000 people detained over two weeks of anti-government protests, and that there had been six reports of torture in police stations in recent months.

She noted that the Interior Ministry and police hadn’t been reformed and were unaccountable under Morsi’s Egypt, and that “there is still no systematic transitional justice program in place to punish excesses before and during the revolution.”

NGOs restricted in Egypt

The group was also critical of Egypt’s treatment of non-governmental organizations, such as Freedom House, which have been raided by the government and that the government is using suppression tactics to stop criticism against Morsi, noting that attacks aren’t restricted to NGOs. “It is a feature of the government’s approach to all of the challenges Egypt faces,” Okail said in the statement.

Protesters call for Morsi to leave

Some protesters threw plastic bags of red liquid at the prosecutor’s office to register outrage over blood spilled by security forces against civilians. Protesters say the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom Morsi is affiliated, are using their power to overreach in government and are using security forces in a heavy-handed way. They’re calling for Morsi to step down, as Mubarak did two years ago.

State Department concerned by YouTube censorship

During a Monday press briefing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that there were concerns regarding reports that the Egyptian court had decided to block YouTube due to an anti-Islam film hosted by the site. “That kind of action violates the universal rights of citizens to exercise their freedom of expression, association, and assembly,” Nuland said. “We would rather see these kinds of concerns settled through dialogue.”

Cleric held over death threats

Mahmoud Shaaban, a hardline Salafi cleric, was taken in for questioning by the government on Monday, according to Reuters . Shaaban made comments on the religious channel al-Hafez suggesting that Mohamed ElBaradei and presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy should be killed. Both are leaders of the secular National Salvation Front.

Reuters noted that Shaaban said that “it is clear now their sentence in God’s law is death,” in the video.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.


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Don’t Underestimate the Supernatural Power of Conversion.

The testimony of a former drug dealer from Ohio reminded me this week of the priority of evangelism.

Shannon McNeal: A total transformation

When my new friend Shannon McNeal was just a little boy, his older brothers put him in a washing machine, turned on the water and sat on the lid to trap him inside. Another time they taped him in a cardboard box and threw it down a flight of stairs to see if he would survive. And once they put him in the kitchen oven, turned it on and blocked the door with a chair while he screamed.

Shannon’s mom wasn’t around to stop the brutality. A single mother, she worked long hours at a Ford automobile plant in Lorain, Ohio, near Cleveland. Her husband had walked out on the family when Shannon was 2, leaving the three fatherless boys to fend for themselves.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hoopla of charismatic gifts—chasing the latest glittering manifestations and the trendiest prophecies—that we forget true conversion is the greatest miracle on the planet.

Without any boundaries, Shannon’s brothers began dealing drugs as young teens, and they threw wild parties in their house while their mother was at the factory. Then a male relative exposed the boys to hardcore pornography. When Shannon was just 6 he was forced to watch pornographic videos; before he had even reached puberty he was expected to act out what he had seen with neighborhood girls.

By the time Shannon became a teenager he was drinking, abusing drugs and hanging out with members of the Bloods, a popular gang. The pain and confusion caused by abuse turned him into a ticking time bomb. He was angry and insecure. It was only a matter of time before he would get in trouble with the law. He finally landed in a state penitentiary for a drug-related crime.

As is often the case for guys like Shannon, the abuse that marred his childhood continued while he was in prison. Because he is bi-racial (his mother is white, his father black), he was caught in the middle of the fray when racial tensions flared. During his 18-month incarceration, a fight erupted and a white inmate stabbed him in the back with a toothbrush that had been sharpened into a weapon.

Amazingly, Shannon survived the childhood abuse, the gang violence, the prison fights and—a few years later—two serious car wrecks, one that sent his head through a truck’s windshield. After his last brush with death, a friend invited him to Freedom House in 2006.

Everything changed.

“I walked into that church and I felt love, and I knew that was what I had been looking for,” Shannon told me last weekend. His wounded heart was healed—not only by the message of Jesus but also by the love of the Christians who didn’t judge him for his mistakes.

“I had tried everything else to fix the person I was destroying,” Shannon said, “so I decided to give the ‘God thing’ a chance. I slowly started realizing God’s love through the people from my church that He led me to, and through the drastic changes He was making in me.”

I spent time with Shannon this past weekend when I was preaching at Freedom House, a church located in Amherst, Ohio. He’s happily married now, he’s starting a business and is beginning to mentor troubled youth. He and his wife have a young daughter. Every door to his past is closed. He’s forgiven the people who abused, neglected or rejected him. He’s a totally new man with a bright smile, a servant’s heart and a loving nature.

I’m sharing Shannon’s story because many of us in so-called Spirit-filled churches have forgotten the raw power of conversion. Sometimes we get so caught up in the hoopla of charismatic gifts—chasing the latest glittering manifestations and the trendiest prophecies—that we forget true conversion is the greatest miracle on the planet. Jesus Himself told us that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that someone can be born again (see John 3:5-7).

How I wish we pursued that miracle as passionately as we chased glory dust or goose bumps or spooky revelations. The devil is perfectly happy when we become preoccupied with spiritual sideshows. As long as he can lure us away from our primary mission of evangelism and discipleship, we really aren’t a threat to his kingdom. But when people like Shannon McNeal are translated from darkness to light, their testimony sends hell into a panic.

Rescuing the lost has always been our mandate, but too often distractions pull us so far off course that we become religiously busy but spiritually fruitless. Of all the manifestations of the Holy Spirit available to us, conversion is the most precious—and the most powerful. In this fresh season of renewal I pray you and your church will reclaim it.

By J. Lee Grady.

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