Don’t Pretend the Ugandan Homosexuality Law Is Christian

Not everything that’s a sin is a crime—let alone one punishable by death.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

In this day of social media mobs and troll-fueled extremism, it’s not unusual for a politician to be digitally attacked for being too weak and “not really one of us”—on a seemingly infinite number of topics.

Even so, one might be surprised to see Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)—not known for repudiating the far extremes of his base—labeled on various social media platforms as soft, weak, and compromising. Some even suggested that Cruz was rejecting the Word of God itself. His radically “progressive” idea? That Uganda shouldn’t criminalize homosexuality and execute gay people.

Normally, a social media controversy is the most ephemeral of pseudo-events. People who want to be noticed post shocking and even ridiculous things (“Y’all! It’s not just Target that’s gone woke; let’s boycott Chick-fil-A too!”) to get attention, knowing they’ll be denounced and quote tweeted, which will amplify their reach. They think that retweets and followers will somehow give them the belonging and significance they crave. Often, the best course is to ignore such things in the spirit of Proverbs 26:4—“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”

Sometimes, though, their kind of trolling can lead to two catastrophic ends that should concern those of us who follow Christ: the unjust killing of human beings made in the image of God and, at the same time, the bearing of false witness about what the Christian gospel actually is.

At issue is a harsh new law signed by Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni that would not only outlaw homosexuality ...

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Miracles, Self-Reliance, False Teaching: COVID-19’s Impact on Cambodian Churches

Cut off from the world, Cambodian churches emerged with new opportunities and challenges.

When the world locked down in early 2020, orders to Cambodia’s thriving garment factories dropped, shutting down factories and leaving more than 50,000 people jobless. The Cambodian government’s quick action kept COVID-19 at bay that year, yet the economic impact was devastating for many.

A COVID-19 outbreak in February 2021 led to several months-long lockdowns, where freedom of movement was limited in the worst-hit areas. Only authorized personnel could pass the police barricades that blocked off each zone. Much of life in the Southeast Asian country from education to job security was deeply affected.

Cambodian Protestants, which make up 1 to 2 percent of the population in the predominantly Buddhist country, have also seen their lives turned upside down since the pandemic. Churches that relied on foreign missionaries and funding were suddenly cut off. With churches closed, believers turned to online resources only to be led astray by false teaching. They struggled with isolation and addictions while stuck in their homes.

Yet the pandemic also opened up new opportunities: Churches learned to be more self-reliant, stepping up to provide food for impoverished neighbors, teach them about hygiene, and tell them about the hope they have in Jesus. They also learned to use the internet to record and share sermons—something foreign in a country that only started having reliable internet in the past decade—to reach more people.

CT spoke with five Christians in Cambodia—from a lay pastor in the factory district of the capital of Phnom Penh to a pastor of a small house church situated near the border of Thailand—about how the pandemic impacted their church and changed their ministry:

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What Happens When Christians and Muslims Translate Scripture Side by Side

Evangelicals in Chad are celebrating unexpected partnerships—and new converts—from recent projects in minority languages.

The Bible translation ministry unfoldingWord has engaged churches across countries and cultures, but a recent project in Chad brought a new dynamic to their work: The majority of the translators were Muslim.

“We can’t take credit for having thought this up or made this strategy,” said Eric Steggerda, field operations manager for unfoldingWord, which partnered in the Central African nation with the Church Growth Project of Chad (Projet Croissance des Eglises au Tchad), or PCET.

“God brought this together in a way that created an open door that neither one of us really expected would be as effective as it was,” Steggerda said. “What we learned was that this is actually a very effective way to bridge a gap with Muslims. Bible stories are understandable.”

Muslims make up a little over half the population in Chad, and Arabic and French are the two official languages, though most people speak a variant called Chadian Arabic.

PCET identified 10 minority languages they wanted to translate and held informational workshops to recruit participants for the translation projects.

A Chadian evangelical involved with PCET—who asked that his name be withheld due to fear of violence in response to the work in Muslim communities—told CT that many initially attended the translation workshop because they were interested in the pay.

But Christians noticed that Muslims quickly latched on to the projects for reasons beyond the financial incentive. PCET and unfoldingWord were clear that the materials for translation would be Christian, but Muslim participants saw some of the stories, such as those about Abraham, as part of their religion, too.

The Chadian communities that lack Christian materials in ...

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The Spiritual Battle of Teen Screen Time

Kids’ addictions to their phones isn’t a legislative issue. It’s a discipleship one.

As summer fast approaches, likely so will increased screen time as school lets out. But new data and a bipartisan consensus that phones are bad for kids may give parents pause.

A growing body of research, though certainly not indisputable, has pointed out that smartphones with unfettered access to the internet and social media have serious negative effects for younger users, particularly teenage girls. At the end of May, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a formal warning and report about the effects of social media on child and teen mental health.

Since 2012, as smartphones were integrated into every part of our lives—and as that integration became an ever-earlier childhood milestone—youth mental health has plummeted. Teen anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation have all tracked eerily well with this technological shift.

As a society, we plopped Pandora’s box into the hands of 15-year-olds. Good luck, kiddos! Go wild. Instead, they became distraught, disconsolate, and utterly unwilling to give up their phones.

Two primary “solutions” to this problem have emerged: parental responsibility or government regulation. Both have obvious appeal. But both will likely ultimately prove inadequate—if not counterproductive—to the task at hand. No one family can entirely fix the kids and phones problem, but neither can Congress. In each case, the scale of the solution is wrong. And the place we have the best chance of getting the scale right is the local church.

The case for parental responsibility is simple and compelling. A responsible parent, knowing about the consequences of tobacco use, wouldn’t supply her child with cigarettes. A Christian parent, aware of spiritual formation, ...

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Theological Education Can’t Catch Up to Global Church Growth

Unless seminaries leave the ivory tower for local leaders in the public square. Like these ones have.

I recently received a handwritten letter from a pastor in India.

His name is Roy, but I didn’t know this gentleman, and we had never corresponded. Somehow he contacted me and told me about the two congregations he leads in Andhra Pradesh and of his great desire to study the Bible.

His ending struck me: “I have no money.”

Roy is not alone. Countless pastoral leaders worldwide are eager to faithfully lead their churches, but they lack access to training. This is especially the case in majority world contexts in Latin America, Africa, and Asia where the gospel continues to rapidly grow—with hundreds of new congregations birthed daily.

Founded in 1846, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) now represents churches in over 130 countries and estimates there are 50,000 new baptized believers each day. These believers need pastoral leaders who are trained to effectively lead their congregations.

The challenge is highlighted when we draw a contrast with the United States, where there is one trained pastor for every 230 people. By comparison, majority world churches have one trained pastor for every 450,000 people.

This colossal leadership imbalance will only expand as the majority world church continues to surge and spread. Already, theological education is struggling to keep up, and unless something changes, the gap will only increase in the future.

If we are to meet the training needs of thousands of pastors like Roy, the worldwide trajectory must be reset. Theological education, no matter the form, has a long history of being fragmented, with most programs operating in silos, lacking a sense of collegiality. Regrettably, this inward posture makes training even less accessible to local ministries, weakening the collective ...

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Died: Paul Eshleman, Who Brought ‘Jesus’ Film to the Ends of the Earth

The Campus Crusade evangelism strategist wanted everyone in the world to hear the good news that God loved them.

Paul Eshleman, an evangelism strategist who organized one of the largest outreach efforts of the 20th century so that everyone in the world could hear at least once that God loved them, died on May 24 at age 80.

Eshleman was the director of the Jesus Film Project, producing the 1979 feature for Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) in partnership with Warner Bros. and overseeing its translation into more than 2,000 languages. Eshleman arranged for the film to be shown across the world, from places in rural Asia and Africa where people had never seen electric lights before, to national television broadcasts in places like Peru, Cyprus, and Lebanon. According to Cru, nearly 500 million people have indicated they made a decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior after seeing the film.

“I’m driven every day to say, ‘Who hasn’t had a chance to hear yet, and how can I make that possible?’” Eshleman once explained. “We are strategists for Christ, thinking of new ways to reach people with the message of life.”

Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren called Eshleman a “dear friend” and praised him for his “global impact.” Evangelist Franklin Graham said, “God used his life greatly.”

According to Steve Sellers, current Cru president, “Paul was a champion for the cause of Christ and challenged the Church to consider innovative ways to evangelize.”

Eshleman was born October 23, 1942, the eldest son of Janet and Ira Eshleman. His father was an evangelical minister who moved the family from Michigan to Florida in 1950 to launch a Christian resort. He purchased 30 acres of a closed army base in Boca Raton for $50,000, starting a church and a vacation ...

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It’s Time to Forgive Each Other Our Pandemic Sins

As the COVID-19 emergency ends, the church can lead the world into a spirit of amnesty.

This week, an Axios poll found that 62 percent of Americans believe the pandemic is over—weeks after the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 is no longer a “public health emergency of international concern.”

More than three years after the virus first swept the globe and governments around the world shut down businesses, schools, and public venues, we can finally say the pandemic has ended.

The WHO estimates the coronavirus killed 20 million people worldwide. Even if the figure is inflated, anything near the ballpark of 20 million is a ghastly toll on humanity. Untold numbers still struggle with debilitating aftereffects made worse by the uncertainty about how long and how serious those aftereffects will be.

While COVID-19 will be with us forever, we can celebrate that the state of emergency is over. But some are not in a celebratory mood. In my conversations with students, pastors, friends, and family, I often hear an undercurrent of anger, even bitterness, when the pandemic comes up. Some seem eager to relitigate who said what about masking, social distancing, infection rates, or church closures years after the fact.

Now is a good time to declare a “pandemic amnesty.” As Emily Oster suggested in The Atlantic last fall, let’s start assuming each other’s good faith and “forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge.” Christians especially can lead the world in an attitude of grace for the things we collectively said and did during a confusing and unprecedented time.

The pandemic was hard. Navigating the complex medical, political, legal, economic, theological, and humanitarian concerns was difficult. ...

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Manipur Christians: ‘The Violence Has Shattered Us’

Many from India’s tribal Kuki community have fled their homes. Amid ongoing violence, returning isn’t an option.

Lun Tombing was hiding in the bushes with her husband and three- and six-year-old daughters several weeks ago when they saw a mob burn down their home, car, and church.

Tombing and her family had heard reports of mob violence in and around Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, the eastern Indian state where they live, and fled to their church. More than 50 Christians hid in the building, even as a Hindu mob vandalized its outside. When the attackers briefly drove away, the Christians made a run for it.

“With every burning of a vehicle, the mob would clap their hands and shout victory-shouts, as we witnessed all this while trembling behind the bushes constantly afraid of being discovered,” Tombing said.

The group stayed outside for nearly 12 hours, only narrowly avoiding a direct confrontation with the rioters. Despite her mother’s order to maintain absolute silence, Tombing’s eldest daughter repeatedly asked why the mob was destroying their neighborhood.

When the military finally arrived half a day later, they sent the survivors to a local refugee camp. Several days later, the traumatized family, along with hundreds of other Manipur Christians, arrived at the nation’s capital with little more than medicine for the children and some extra clothes.

Since sheltering with a relative in Delhi, both of Tombing’s daughters have struggled to sleep deeply and disruptions as minor as a TV channel changing have startled them awake.

“Even after we reached Delhi, whenever my daughters heard a bang or a sudden noise, they would start to scream, ‘Mummy, they are coming,’” Tombing said.

Between May 3 and May 5, mob violence claimed 75 lives and displaced 35,000 people, according to Manipur’s ...

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Cyrus, Pharaoh, or Xerxes: Nigerian Christians Seek Parallels for New President They Opposed

Bola Tinubu spurned tradition to pick a fellow Muslim as his running mate. Believers wonder if he will champion greater Islamization, be the figure able to resist it, or listen to his evangelical wife.

Bola Tinubu, the 16th president of Nigeria, has “absolute” faith in God.

“I know that his hand shall provide the needed moral strength and clarity of purpose,” he stated during his inaugural speech on Monday, “when we seem to have reached the limits of our human capacity.”

But what if the limits are self-imposed?

Tinubu, who infuriated many Christians by nominating a fellow Muslim as his running mate, became the West African nation’s first president to enter office with less than 50 percent of the vote. Despite record voter registration, only 29 percent of the electorate cast ballots. Tinubu, affiliated with the incumbent APC party, won 37 percent.

Atiku Abubakar of the opposition PDP party captured 29 percent, while the third-party surge of Peter Obi, a Christian, fell short with 25 percent. Neither candidate attended the inauguration, as they contest in court the validity of the electoral results.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella grouping of the five main denominations, vociferously protested the Muslim-Muslim ticket, urging a vote for any other candidates. But with the nation roughly divided 50-50 along religious lines, results show that no candidate was able to marshal a conclusive sectarian advantage.

In breaking political protocol, Tinubu, two-term governor of the southwestern megacity of Lagos, stated the choice of Kashim Shettima as vice president simply reflected his personal competency. But most analysts linked it instead with the candidate’s northern origin.

Everyone jostled over this mostly Muslim bloc of votes.

Competition led the PDP to break regional political protocol in nominating a Fulani from the north, when outgoing APC president Muhammadu ...

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Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Asian Girl Name

How did a name the Puritans made popular take off in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese immigrant circles?

As a freshman at Biola University, Grace Brannon (née Kim), 28, encountered many Korean and Korean American women with the same first name. When several of them became part of the same friend group, they started to call themselves Grace 1, Grace 2, and Grace 3.

“This was like an inside joke among our friend group. It was funny,” Brannon said. “They knew a lot of other Graces too.”

The ubiquity of the name Grace among predominantly East Asian and East Asian American women has been both anecdotally remarked upon and at times given larger cultural attention. When I shared social media posts asking to connect with Asian women named Grace for this story, one person tweeted, “I know fifty.” Another said that CT would need “3 issues and a podcast” to adequately represent the plethora of Graces in Asian American communities.

In 2005, filmmaker Grace Lee even made a documentary as a way to uncover the stereotypes and social expectations people had for women bearing, in this case, both her first and last name.

“In the US, most of the Graces I know are Chinese or Korean,” said Grace Chan McKibben, 55, the executive director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community in Chicago. She moved to America from Hong Kong in high school.

“My grandma, aunt, and sister-in-law are all named Grace,” she added.

What’s so amazing about the name Grace? Why do so many Asian Christian women in North America have this name? Perhaps the name represents a believer’s cry while living in a foreign land, and a proclamation of thanksgiving for receiving undeserved kindness from God.

Divine intervention

Grace comes from the Latin word gratia ...

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