All eyes are set on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to see whether he might throw his hat into the ring for the 2016 presidential campaign, a prospect many in the GOP believe could give the party its strongest rival to Hillary Clinton.
People close to the Republican say he is considering a bid more seriously than ever before, and believe his record and personality could be just the right combination to give him star appeal across the country, according to The Hill.
“I’ve never seen him so seriously considering a run for higher office,” Slater Bayliss, a Florida GOP lobbyist and former Bush aide, told The Hill. “He’s legitimately going through a very methodical, thoughtful process to come to a decision.”
The Hill reports that many party strategists believe Bush could transform the electoral map, “turning blue states purple and purple states red.”
On the other hand, the paper says, a third Bush in the White House could strike voters as too “dynastic,” an obstacle that Bush has recently acknowledged.
Nevertheless, Bush appears capable of leading on the key issues expected to define the 2016 campaign, including immigration and education reform. His multicultural family could also be an asset; his wife is from Mexico, and he speaks Spanish fluently, two things that could help the GOP capture the crucial Latino vote, according to The Hill.
Meanwhile, polls are showing that other potential establishment front-runners, such as N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have seen their star power fade to the possible benefit of Bush.
In the last few months, Bush has been careful to say he has decided whether to run. He has said he is deferring a decision until later in the year and would only consider running if he could do so “joyfully” and in an environment without much acrimony.
Allies are hoping he will make the decision in favor of jumping in, and do so soon, according to The Hill.
As a Jewish person, I can tell you that the word baptism conjures up horrible images for my people. From the early years of Catholicism, Jews were forced to be baptized as Christians. Sometimes it was under the threat of death. Other times the consequences of not being baptized was “merely” being thrown out of your home and country.
For example, the Spanish Inquisition declared that Jews who would not convert to Catholicism (and thus be baptized) must leave the country.
In some cases, Jews were kidnapped and forcibly baptized—one being the son of a rabbi in 1762. The worst case was in Russia just two centuries ago. The Russian empire kidnapped Jewish males from the age of 12 for military service. “The number of forced or virtually forced baptisms which resulted, probably exceeded all similar cases in other lands throughout history.”
He Did What?
Because of this thuggish history, Jewish people tend to cringe when they simply hear the word baptism. When news gets out of a Jewish person coming to faith in Yeshua and willingly getting baptized, they are disgusted. And it’s understandable, based on the history. But it wasn’t always like that.
And that leads us to what I consider to be the strangest verse in the entire Bible:
“How can anyone object to these people being baptized in water?” (Acts 10:47).
Who are “these people,” and who is talking? The speaker is the Jewish apostle Simon Peter, and he is referring to Gentiles at the home of Cornelius. It was a major controversy for Gentiles to be baptized as believers in Yeshua. This had not yet been done. For the first nine years, the gospel was preached exclusively to Jews.
Simon Peter, after a vision and a word from the Lord (Acts 10), slightly confused, goes to the house of this Roman soldier and shares with the people in the house the message of Yeshua. The Holy Spirit falls upon these people in the midst his sharing. The Jewish believers witness this and are stunned—Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit!
Simon Peter declares,“How can anyone object to these Gentiles being baptized in water?” This was a major controversy that wasn’t settled for another 10 years at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).
But since when is baptizing Gentiles controversial? Can you imagine someone objecting at, say, First Baptist Church that they are baptizing non-Jews? That would be ridiculous. However, if they were baptizing large numbers of Jews, that might make some waves.
What most people—Jews and Gentiles—do not know, is that baptism (or water immersion) is Jewish. Long before Queen Isabella sought to compel the Jews of Spain to convert and be baptized, the Jews of Israel would wade through the waters of immersion.
When John the Baptist, the Jewish prophet, came preaching repentance through baptism, we have no record of anyone protesting, “What is this strange new tradition you are evoking?”
Water immersion was already a major part of Judaism. The Torah teaches that priests would need to be immersed in water as part of their consecration (Ex. 29:4-9). Before any Jewish man could bring a sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, he would first have to walk though a mikvah, a water immersion tank, to symbolize ritual cleansing.
Immersing 3,000 People Without a River
Furthermore, have you ever wondered how Simon Peter and the apostles immersed 3,000 Jewish men in one day in Jerusalem? Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv or a city in Galilee, where the Mediterranean Sea or the Jordan River could be utilized. Jerusalem sits on a mountain. There are no lakes, rivers or seas nearby. However, archeologists have unearthed nearly 50 mikvot—immersion tanks—that were used in temple worship. With 50 tanks receiving 60 people each, 3,000 could be immersed in a matter of hours. Without these Jewish mikvot, it would have been impossible.
Today, mixing Judaism with an act of water immersion, as we see among the Jews of the New Testament, is like mixing oil and water. But in the first century, it was not like that. The controversy of their day had nothing to do with Jews being immersed, butGentiles! And Simon Peter heard from other Jewish people almost immediately after he did the “unthinkable”—baptizing Gentiles into the body of Yeshua.
The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” (Acts 11:3)
Ron Cantoris the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, released last year. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.
Sen. Tim Kaine offered his endorsement of the immigration reform bill in Spanish on Tuesday, marking what was thought to be the first time a member of the Senate delivered a speech on the floor entirely in another language.
“El senado ha comenzado un debate histórico sobre una reforma migratoria comprensiva,” the Virginia Democrat began.
His office told The Washington Post the translation broke down roughly this way: “The Senate has started an historic debate about comprehensive immigration reform.”
Continuing in Spanish, the senator emphasized his strong support for reform because “nuestro sistema no satisface las demandas de negocios que desean atraer y retener inmigrantes sumamente calificados,” or “our immigration system does not meet the demands of businesses that wish to attract and retain highly qualified immigrants.”
Coincidentally, the freshman senator delivered his remarks immediately following the introduction of an amendment by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida requiring illegal immigrants to learn the English language before being granted permanent residency in the United States. Rubio, one of the Senate’s most high-profile Hispanic members, did not speak in Spanish.
Kaine told the Post he enjoyed speaking after Rubio, a leading negotiator on the immigration measure.
“He was going through various aspects of the bill and I just did exactly the same thing, and did it in Spanish,” Kaine said.
According to Senate records, Kaine’s speech was the first delivered entirely in Spanish by a member on the Senate floor, although other languages have been incorporated on occasion as part of remarks made by lawmakers. Sign language has also been used on the floor as well.
According to the Post, Kaine learned Spanish decades ago and became fairly fluent in the language in the early 1980s, when he took a break from Harvard Law School to work with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras.
For many decades, Spanish-speakingAssemblies of God churches could typically be described as predominately Mexican and Mexican-American churches where all services were held in Spanish. Today, some see Hispanic churches as resembling close-knit families who share a similar heritage and culture. For many generations, those descriptions and assumptions would have been mostly correct.
Yet now, to the surprise of even some Hispanic churches, the “melting pot” that is the United States is making itself known and providing a “culture shock” for some Hispanic churches that goes beyond the nearly inevitable clash of generations.
“Just like most churches, Hispanic churches typically minister to several generations within their congregations,” says Efraim Espinoza, director of AG Office of Hispanic Relations. “So, they have the expected generational differences to work through.”
However, Espinoza adds that unlike most Anglo churches, what many Hispanic churches are experiencing is the growth in the numbers of Spanish-speaking members who are not from Mexico, but come from other Latin-American countries.
New Dawn Worship Center/Centro de Adoración Nuevo Amanecer (AG), a member of the Northern Pacific Latin American District of the Assemblies of God, in Fremont, Calif., is one of those churches.
Maynor Morales, who has led New Dawn (currently 120 members) for the past 14 years with his wife, Evelyn (who is also an ordained AG minister), explains that the church has experienced several transitions, evolving to meet the needs of a changing congregation. But it’s not always an easy road to navigate.
“When I first got here, we had two congregations: one Spanish and one English,” Morales says. “But as time went by, we had more second- and third-generation Mexican and Mexican-Americans [individuals who speak fluent English] as well as more first-generation members from Central and South America, so now we have a bilingual service [the service is translated].”
Morales explains that this mix of generations, languages and now very different cultures requires constant self-vigilance on the part of church leaders.
“What some people don’t realize is that there are some important differences in the Spanish language Mexican-Americans speak and the Spanish of countries in Central and South America,” Morales says, implying how someone could be unintentionally offended.
But where things can get really sticky is in cultural differences. “The cultures of those of Mexican descent, Mexican-America descent, Central American and South American descent have few similarities outside of the language,” Morales says. “Each country has its own traditions and expectations. We do our best to not only learn, but be sensitive to cultural and generational differences. We also alter our services a bit from week to week to minister more effectively to the entire church body.”
But ministry challenges aren’t just with adults. Eva Hinojoza, who has been teaching Sunday school for 25 years at New Dawn, explains that although the main services are translated, what some people may find surprising is that children’s Sunday school is always in English. Hinojoza explains that children must learn English in order to do well in school and to communicate outside of the Spanish-speaking community.
Yet, keeping in mind that there are multiple cultures in her classroom, which can include “first-generation” children who don’t speak any English as well as children transitioning from Spanish to English as a “first” language, Hinojoza says she has discovered the key to her success is the curriculum.
“Some of my children need to learn English or are not fluent in English, so we read the Sunday school lesson together,” Hinojoza says. She explains that the Sunday school lesson becomes almost like an ESL (English as a Second Language) course for kids, but as the church uses Radiant Life Curriculum, it comes with a powerful Pentecostal message.
“As we read, the kids always have questions,” Hinojoza says. “So not only are they learning English, but they’re learning about God’s Word—and they’re responding to it. I’ve seen lives change and God work in kids’ lives through the materials … and they have developed a hunger to learn more.”
Hinojoza’s husband and daughter also teach Sunday school classes, and they both use the English Radiant Life materials with great success in their classrooms, despite the cultural differences and
challenges. “My daughter [a recent graduate of Vanguard University] absolutely loves the materials provided,” Eva Hinojoza says.
As more Hispanic churches become more fully “Latino-American” churches—encompassing Spanish- and English-speaking generations from North, South and Central America as well as Spain—New Dawn Center, Morales and the Hinojozas already understand the challenges and rewards of this multicultural culture.
“Some weeks, our services are more Anglo; some weeks, more of a Latino mix,” Morales says, “but we work to offer something to the different culture groups. Our children and youth also need that accommodation. We don’t want to run the risk that they don’t feel ministered to, either. We intentionally minister to our members in their own language and own culture, not just first generation, but second, third and fourth.”
The Spirit-empowered church in Latin America has witnessed revival over the last few decades. As a new generation of leaders arises, the question is whether or not the revival will continue—and even grow.
Empowered21 (Empoderados21 in Spanish) is doing its part to make sure the next generation of Latin-American Christians catches the spirit of revival. Empowered21 co-sponsored Pasando la Antorcha (Passing the Torch) along with Enlace and the Luis Palau Association May 4-8 at the Expolit Convention in Miami.
The goal of the event: to discuss how to pass the torch of revival to the next generation of Spirit-empowered Christians in Latin America.
“At Empower 21 we are very concerned about the future of the Spirit-empowered movement among new generations,” Billy Wilson, executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal and Empowered21, told Charisma News.
“There’s probably no place on earth where it’s more critical to pass the torch well than in Latin America. With a whole new generation rising, there’s a big transition going on in the movement in Latin America. If the revival is going to continue then this new generation really has to take the torch.”
Passing the Torch Sessions and workshops featured topics like passing the natural process of leadership and authority to the new generation at home and in the congregation so that the Spirit-empowered movement of Latin-American countries overflows to the whole world.
Ministry leaders such as Luis Palau, Andres Palau (a next generation leader and son of Luis Palau), Otoniel and Omayra Font, Emilio Abreu, Claudio Freidzon, Jonas Gonzalez and Juanita Cercone, Esteban Solis (a next generation leader and son of Hugo and Ruth de Solis), Evelio Reyes and Omar Cabrera were on hand to bring together intergenerational, multi-denominational and Christian leaders. These leaders equipped and blessed a new generation with the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I am very excited to see how the Holy Spirit is moving in different Hispanic ministries with one sense: the need to prepare the coming generations to walk in the paths we have drawn,” says Juanita Cercone of Enlace. “That is why we have decided to be a part of this initiative to train our leaders on how to pass the baton.”
Cercone says Latin America is a young continent where the gospel has only a few years of history. As she sees it, the time of transition should not be abrupt—younger Christians must walk with their elders and take part of what they are doing even now.
“Our God is a generational God, he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that is how we should project ourselves in our ministerial lives,” Cercone says. “I understand that the ministry is not just the pulpit.”
Carlos Barbieri of the Luis Palau Association says the event is perhaps the most important for the Hispanic church in decades because the topic of Passing the Torch involves two generations: those who pass the torch and those who receive it.
“It speaks of a historic moment in the heart of a family, or of a congregation, or of a ministry in which the one who leads and carries the mantel of the Lord passes it with the authority and power of the Spirit,” Barbieri says.
“It speaks of God’s time for change. It speaks of a movement forward, of an extension for His glory. How I wish thousands could attend this Congress in May! Because we are seeing a unique move of the Holy Spirit in all of Latin America, and we must be a part of that move. I encourage you to set these days off so that, guided by experienced servants of God; we may seek His face in His Word.”
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, believes God is empowering His church for the last match in the game.
“It is very encouraging to see different ministries bringing their callings, resources and passion for the strengthening of the kingdom of God,” Rodriguez says. “Our prayer is that the Hispanic ministries worldwide can capture the essence of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, and that we may have a greater impact in evangelism and missions on a global scale.”