The Demonization of Christianity

The Demonization of Christianity
President Jacob Zuma’s nomination of Justice Mogoeng Thomas Reetsang Mogoeng as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court unleashed a media storm in South Africa and exposed the blatant anti-Christian bias so prevalent in the liberal media.

The liberal outcry
Several pro-homosexual and anti-family groups ganged up on Justice Mogoeng, questioning everything from his judicial experience, commitment to upholding women’s and homosexual’s rights and the Constitution itself. Until his nomination, Justice Mogoeng existed in relative media obscurity. A fourteen year veteran of the bench, Justice Mogoeng (50), who holds a Master’s Degree in Law, began his legal career as a Supreme Court prosecutor in Mafikeng in 1986. He served as a Judge of the North West High Court from 1997, the Labour Appeals Court from 2000 and as Judge President of the North West High Court from 2002–2009. Mogoeng was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2009 where he served until his nomination on 16 August 2011.

A personal attack
Most of the criticism centred on Mogoeng’s religious beliefs, including his position as a lay-pastor at Winners Chapel Church in Johannesburg. According to media reports, “Mogoeng’s church believes homosexuality is a sin that can be cured through prayer.”
Once his personal Christian convictions became known, the liberal media unleashed a wave of hatred against Mogoeng. Many of the anti-family groups who hypocritically labelled Mogoeng ‘gender-biased’ support a legalised sex industry which perpetuates the brutal sexual exploitation of women and children. Homosexual activists – who primarily advance their radical agenda through the law courts – viewed Mogoeng’s Christian convictions as a threat and ramped up their condemnation of the Judge. Homosexual activist and supposed constitutional ‘expert’ Pierre de Vos contends that Mogoeng will have to decide “which god he will serve” as Chief Justice.

Hypocritical standards
Apparently, Christians with a Biblical view of homosexuality are precluded from serving in the judiciary. Predictably, de Vos had no such reservations when Judge Edwin Cameron – a radical homosexual activist and co-author of ‘Defiant Desire,’ a book which speaks positively of sexual relations with children – was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2008. Then acting President, Kgalema Motlanthe’s, dead-of-night appointment of Cameron was quietly announced in the media. There was no public inquisition – no debate about his suitability for the post, nor were his previous rulings dissected and second guessed. The liberal media welcomed Cameron’s appointment to the highest court in the land because it fitted in perfectly with their pro-homosexual, anti-Christian bias.

An anti-family agenda
The mainstream media resent Bible believing Christians, regarding them a threat to democratic freedoms. Secular humanistic freedoms include complete sexual license with no restraint. The liberal media is dominated by people who believe prostitution is legitimate work, that porno­graphy, even in its most depraved manifestations, must be freely available, that sexual promiscuity (with its inherent dangers) is glamorous and progressive and that homosexuality is a legitimate ‘alternative lifestyle’ worthy of special privileges and protections. It is no surprise then that an industry steeped in this godless ideology will view Biblical Christianity with trepidation.

A shocking state of affairs
The one view regards sexual immorality as sin and the other insists it’s a human right. However, the destructive consequence of sexual immorality weighs overwhelmingly in favour of the Biblical argument. But those tasked with articulating this message in the public sphere are mostly silent. As a result, Christians are not losing the debate on Biblical morality – they are just not participating! And tragically that’s what transpired with Justice Mogoeng’s vilification in the media.

The God-haters launched an unprecedented attack on Justice Mogoeng because they realised he was a Bible believing Christian destined for a position of historic influence. The naked hostility displayed against Mogoeng’s Christian beliefs should have elicited some response from the Christian Church – but sadly, there was none.  ACDP leader, Rev Kenneth Meshoe’s letter to the press accurately articulated the media’s staggering hypocrisy, including its demonization of Christian beliefs.

In a letter published in the Sunday Sun, Meshoe wrote, “the interrogation of Justice Mogoeng about his religious beliefs has been a shock to watch. None of the former Chief Justices were interrogated about their religious beliefs.

Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson allegedly belonged to the Jewish faith, while Chief Justice Ismael Mohamed was a Muslim. A well-known journalist allegedly said that a Christian should not be Chief Justice. This is a wake-up call for all sleeping Christians. If it is acceptable for an unbeliever, agnostic, atheist, Jew or Muslim to serve as Chief Justice, why can’t a committed Christian be the Chief Justice?”

We need to stand together
Meshoe was spot on. But tragically, instead of supporting this argument another Christian political party chose to continue its long-running battle with Meshoe by publically opposing his views and (inadvertently) siding with the Christian bashing media.

In the midst of a media frenzy that ridiculed Christianity, it is sad that the Christians could not set-aside petty differences to unite against a common enemy. The liberal media mostly ignores Christian comment. But when Christians publically attack other Christians, this is a gift too good to ignore. The party’s attack on Meshoe was compounded by the fact that no other Christian leaders in South Africa were motivated to defend the blatant attacks on Christianity. This could be ascribed to the fact that most Christian leaders probably knew very little about Justice Mogoeng and were reluctant to enter the fray. However, upon careful inspection, one would observe that the vicious attacks on Mogoeng were more about his Christian beliefs than it was about his competency.

We need to defend the truth
Consequently, pro-homosexual activists and their cheerleaders in the media put Christianity on trial. Despite the fact that religious belief, thought and opinion is protected by the Constitution, Christian values and principles were declared inconsistent with the protection of human rights.

In a bizarre twist of irony, the very worldview that produced the freest civilisations on earth is now considered a threat to human freedoms. However, the Biblical Christian worldview is still the only sure foundation for a strong, healthy, stable and prosperous society. And that‘s why we must defend it – whatever the circumstances!

—by Errol Naidoo

Chrislam Expose

Chrislam Exposé
Sometime in the 1800s, Mark Twain said that, “a lie can travel halfway around the world, while the truth is putting its boots on.” This could not be a more apt observation for the technologically saturated, social networking, 21st Century world.
Through emails, viral campaigns, Twitter and Facebook, rumours can spread like wildfire, with facts ultimately remaining unverified on blogs posted by self-appointed ‘experts’ – that stick around in the cyber-sphere (internet) for years to come.

JOY! witnessed this recently when a flurry of emails arrived in our inbox claiming that Rick Warren (Christian author and pastor of Saddleback Church in America) is spearheading a new movement – Chrislam – which blurs the beliefs of Christianity and Islam, thereby seeking to find common ground between believers of the two (diametrically opposed) religions.

False reporting and confused facts
This same email refers to several blog sites (online mini-websites that allow the creator to post their own opinions and musings unchecked) that ‘reported’ on a Chrislam campaign initiated by several Protestant churches in America on 26 June 2011 to place Qurans alongside Bibles and preach on unity between Muslims and Christians made possible through Chrislam.

A war of words
Understandably, if this campaign did in fact take place, and Rick Warren is indeed promoting Chrislam, the Body of Christ has cause for concern and reason to speak out against false teaching and misguided pastors. Readers requested that JOY! comment on the story and investigate the claims – which we did immediately.

Sadly (and unsurprisingly), the sensationalist emails were loaded with false reports (that stemmed from confused sources), and the bloggers who commented on the Chrislam campaign never verified their facts. Thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Christians around the world  jumped on the bandwagon, proclaiming Rick Warren to be an agent of the devil and called for a boycott of the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC) – who supposedly initiated the Chrislam campaign.

At the heart of the controversy, was Jack Van Impe, who accused Rick Warren and Robert Schuller  of being false teachers promoting Chrislam in America. TBN pulled the particular broadcast in which Van Impe made these claims, resulting in Van Impe Ministries leaving TBN and beginning a viral campaign defaming the leaders.

Both Rick Warren and MDPC issued statements to set the record straight (see for details), but unfortunately many of the bloggers chose to ignore their statements and even now, continue to propagate Van Impe’s claims – leaving many Christians confused.

What caused the rumours?
To set the record straight, let us establish a few reasons as to why people have made these claims:
• Rick Warren is an evangelist, and possibly one of the most influential Christians of modern times. As such, he is often invited to speak at many high profile events and is strategic about how he interacts with, and witnesses to, Muslims. To date, Warren has not compromised the Gospel, but rather, has encouraged Christians to find  ‘common ground’ with Muslims (and people of other faiths) – so as to win them for Christ. As a result many people misunderstand Warren’s calling and criticise his decisions. This has been going on for years and it is evident that Warren is a target for several groups of Christians who suspect his motives
• MDPC ran a series to assist people in reaching Muslims. This was mis-reported on, and a statement from the church reveals the true story: “It is apparent that untruthful information is circulating on websites and blogs about MDPC and its ministries. The authors of these sites accuse MDPC of (1) preaching a sermon series blending Christianity and Islam, (2) offering Sunday School classes in which we teach the writings of Mohammed, and (3) placing copies of the Quran next to our pew Bibles. These allegations are absolutely untrue. The authors of these sites have been notified, and have been asked repeatedly to discontinue posting these lies. They have refused. Instead of seeking to determine the truth and facts, they continue to defend their deceitful slander…”
• “We believe this situation stems from MDPC hosting a seminar, several months ago, called Jesus in the Quran. The JIQ seminar seeks to equip people to better understand the religion of Islam. For the record, MDPC has not preached a sermon series linking Christianity to Islam. Likewise, we have not offered Sunday School classes in which we teach the writings of Mohammed. Furthermore, we have not placed copies of the Quran next to our pew Bibles. These accusations are fundamentally untrue…”
• “We invite you to visit us in person and see for yourself, or explore this site to listen to our sermons and Bible studies, and examine our beliefs and values. You will find that we are a church that preaches and teaches the centrality of Jesus Christ as God’s sole means for reconciling humanity to Himself. Please examine the facts and do not believe what other people are saying in ignorance. Thank you for your prayerful consideration in this matter.”

Evaluating the media
In light of the emails and vilification of Rick Warren and MDPC, what can we learn from the situation? Firstly, before Christians forward emails (of any nature) claiming certain truths – let us investigate and not take all that we read at face value. Sadly many people revel in disunity in the Body and we need to be mindful of people’s agendas.

Secondly, let us pray for one another and seek to understand why churches and ministers adopt certain “unusual” evangelistic strategies that we may not agree with. If it is unbiblical, let us speak out. But if the strategies have a Scriptural foundation and lead people to salvation in Christ, let us not be so quick to judge.
Chrislam: facts, figures & fiction
Chrislam is a relatively new religion founded in 1970 in Nigeria. The religion mixes Christian and Muslim beliefs, as its founder claims that both have the same origins and core doctrine. It has on record 1 500 followers who study both the Bible and the Quran. In the 1980s, another Nigerian ‘prophet’ established his own version of Chrislam and today, Nigeria has two different movements within the religion.
• From various news reports, it appears that Chrislam is gaining a following in America and several other Christian countries that have experienced an influx of Muslim inhabitants
• Rick Warren, a 4th generation pastor, is not associated with Chrislam in anyway. He has been linked to Chrislam because of his evangelistic strategy. In certain sermons, Warren has stated that “one cannot win your enemies to Christ; only your friends, thus we must build bridges of friendship and love to those who believe differently – so Jesus can walk across that bridge into their hearts.”
• Critics of Warren have taken his advice to “seek common ground with Muslims” as an endorsement of Chrislam.—by Jackie Georgiou

The Use of Genesis in the New Testament

I am often asked why someone specialising in the New Testament would care about the ‘Old Testament’ issue of Creation. After all, one’s view on the first chapters of Genesis seems peripheral at best when it comes to interpreting the New Testament. But I believe that one’s interpretation of Genesis has implications for many doctrines which are taught most clearly in the New Testament.
First, a New Testament scholar’s view of Creation matters because Genesis was important to the New Testament authors. Every New Testament author quotes or alludes to Genesis. The New Testament has a total of 60 allusions to Genesis 1–11 specifically, and when we widen the search to include all of Genesis, the number grows to 103. For such a tiny body of literature, the New Testament has a staggering amount of references back to Genesis (see the list below).

But simply giving a list of references to Genesis proves nothing – we must look at how the New Testament authors used Genesis in order to discern their view. Overwhelmingly, it is presumed to be a historical document; the only place where it could even be argued that it is not necessarily used historically is in the borrowing of Edenic symbols in Revelation to describe the New Jerusalem (depending on one’s eschatological view1). But this is the exception, and in any case, even a symbolic use has an underlying literal reality – the figurative “strong as an ox” would mean nothing unless an ox were literally strong, and the allusion to an Edenic paradise underscores the reality of this pre-Fall world without a curse.

Jesus and the Gospels
Jesus’ use of Genesis sets the tone for how it will be used in the rest of the New Testament. He uses it both to explain doctrine and to draw historical analogies. An example of the former use is in Matthew 22:15–22 (parallels in Mark 12:13–17 and Luke 20:20–36) where the Pharisees and Herodians questioned Him about taxes. For Jesus, because the coin bears Caesar’s image, it is Caesar’s property and should be rendered to him – but He adds the command to give to God what is God’s. In the context, the image on the coin determines who owns it, so specifically what is in view here is that which is in God’s image. Jesus is referring back to Genesis 1:26–27. “In the present, proper humility before God requires the payment of Roman taxes, but if it is true that some of one’s money should go to the Caesar, it is so much truer that all that one is needs to be handed over to the God in whose image one is made.”

Of course, if humanity had not actually been made in the image of God like Genesis teaches, the whole precedent would fall apart. In Jesus’ day, there was a debate about whether divorce was allowed for any reason, or only for adultery. When asked to weigh in, Jesus essentially goes beyond the Law back to creation and quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 to establish that God made man male and female and intended marriage to be between a man and a woman for life. This bond of loyalty transcends all other loyalties, even to one’s parents, except loyalty to God. The Pharisees ask why Moses commanded that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce to send her away. Jesus retorts that Moses allowed (never commanded) divorce because of rebellion (hardness of heart). But divorce violates the Will of God which is expressed in the created order itself, and that overrides even the Law.
This quote of Genesis reveals Jesus’ thoughts on the timeline of creation, as well, because He said that it was this way “from the beginning of creation.” If Jesus is speaking on a timescale of 4000 years from creation to His day, it makes sense to refer to something which was instituted on Day 6 as “from the beginning of creation.” But it makes no sense to refer to it as “the beginning of creation” if there were millions of years before the creation of mankind. Often Jesus compares the people in His own day to people from Genesis. Capernaum is worse than Sodom, because Jesus said that the Sodomites would have repented if they’d seen the miracles performed in Capernaum (Matthew 11:23–24). Jesus’ contrasted Abraham’s eager expectation of His day with the rejection of the Pharisees who claimed to be his descendents (John 8:33–41) – as well as contrasting Abraham’s coming into existence with His own eternal pre-existence (v. 58). And He predicted that the end days would be like the days of Noah and of Lot – destruction would come swiftly and without warning (Luke 17:26–29). In every case, there is no hint that Jesus is taking these events in less than a historical manner.
Luke’s genealogy back to Adam, who is called a son of God (not the son of ape-like creatures or pond scum). There is absolutely no evidence that Luke takes the earliest ancestors to be less historical than the more recent ones.
Luke was a consummate historian, and his Gospel gives us more precise chronological details than any other one. Luke sees Jesus’ life and ministry as rooted in history. While Matthew’s genealogy emphasises Jesus’ Jewishness and His claim to the throne of David, Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3) goes further back, to Adam, who is called a son of God (not the son of ape-like creatures or pond scum). There is absolutely no evidence that Luke takes the earliest ancestors to be less historical than the more recent ones; his inclusion of Adam to Abraham in the genealogy affirms the historicity of those characters, and identifies Christ as related to all of humanity.3 Interestingly, the “most historical” Gospel4 has the most references to Genesis.

John’s Gospel is the most overtly “theological” in that he liberally inserts his own commentary about the meaning of the events he records. Instead of a birth narrative like Luke’s and Matthew, he goes back to creation to begin his Gospel. “In 1:1–5, John traces his account of Jesus farther back than the beginning of the ministry, farther back than the virgin birth, farther back even than the Creation. The account must reach back to the eternal, divine Word, God’s agent in Creation and the fount of life and light.”5 John’s opening “in the beginning” is an unmistakable reference to the opening verse of Genesis,6 but the creation of Heaven and Earth comes in only in v. 3 in John. To understand Jesus’ mission, we have to understand His identity, and to John, He is nothing less than the divine Word who was pre-existent with the Father in the beginning.

The Earliest Church’s Preaching
When the apostles and earliest Christians preached to Gentiles who did not have any background in the Jewish Scriptures, they went back to Creation as a foundation for their preaching and the proclamation of the Gospel.
When the apostles and earliest Christians preached to a Jewish audience, they preached from the foundation of the Jewish Scriptures; Jewish history and the Abrahamic and Davidic promises are prominent (Acts 2:14–41; 7:2–14). But when they preached to Gentiles who did not have this background in the Jewish Scriptures, they went back to creation as a foundation for their preaching (Acts 14:15–17; 17:24–31). They take creation and the ancestry of all men from Adam to be historical (v 26), and it is their basis for leading in to a proclamation of the Gospel.

Creation and the Fall are woven into the entire theology of Romans. God’s power is revealed through creation, and men are condemned because they do not recognise this (Rom 1:19–20). The Gentile is condemned because of idolatry and immorality, and the Jew is condemned because of failure to perfectly keep the Law, which was always intended only to multiply transgressions, never to save. Having painted an overwhelmingly bleak picture, Paul is able to contrast it with the Good News of Christ: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” Rom 3:21–22. Paul explains that Jesus was an atoning sacrifice for sin. But when Paul is explaining how the sacrifice of one man can make many righteous, he goes back to Genesis, and reasons that since death came through a man, Adam, it follows that the gift of righteousness should also come through one man, Christ (5:12–21).
[In Romans 5,] Paul is arguing that these two individuals acted in ways that affected all who came after them – Adam’s sin affects all who are descended from him, and Christ’s obedience affects all who believe in Him. But only historical people and historical actions can have real world consequences.
This comparison is very significant for discerning Paul’s use of Genesis, because “Paul is not simply comparing Adam to Christ, but rather the effects of Adam’s actions on the human race with the effects of Christ’s action.”7 But Paul is not comparing as much as contrasting the two actions; “this is not intended to be a comparison of exact equals but is a way of highlighting both misdeeds and good deeds and their effects.”8 Paul is arguing that these two individuals acted in ways that affected all who came after them – Adam’s sin affects all who are descended from him, and Christ’s obedience affects all who believe in Him. But only historical people and historical actions can have real world consequences. A mythical Adam whose disobedience is only an allegory for human sinfulness cannot be a type of Christ. See also Romans 5:12–21: Paul’s view of literal Adam.
In Romans 8, Paul teaches that not only humanity, but all of creation has been subjected to futility because of man’s sin, and awaits liberation from its bondage to decay (19–22). Commentators on Romans, regardless of their view of Genesis, agree that Paul believed that it was God who subjected creation to futility at the Fall (See Cosmic and universal death from Adam’s fall: an exegesis of Romans 8:19–23a).

1 and 2 Corinthians
The letters to the Corinthian church are good examples of how Paul used Scripture when he was writing to Gentile churches. It is no surprise that Paul refers back to the created order many times. The Corinthian believers are to refrain from sexual immorality because it is improper to join part of the Body of Christ to a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:12–20). His sole reference to Scripture in support of his argument is a quote of Genesis 2:24. Regarding the issue of head coverings in worship, apparently unconnected to Creation, Paul cites the created order – man was created first, and then woman – in defence of his ruling that men should pray and prophesy with their heads uncovered and women9 should pray and prophesy with their heads covered.
But without a doubt, Paul’s most important use of Genesis is in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul defends the physical resurrection of the dead.10 His argument, much like his argument in Romans 5:12–21, is that Adam and Christ constitute two heads of humanity. Death came because of Adam’s sin, but the resurrection came through Christ. Because believers are under Christ, believers will also rise. And because Christ rose as a man, we can be sure that our resurrection will be like His; it wasn’t a different sort of resurrection because of His deity. Again, the state of humanity is said to stem from the historical actions of actual people which actually affect those who come after them. And Paul is using this sort of argument to defend one of the cardinal dogmas of the Christian faith, the resurrection, without which Paul says we are without hope!

Other Pauline Letters
Paul’s other letters are sprinkled with references to Genesis; and the vast majority are to the reality of Creation and God as the Creator. This is reiterated in all sorts of contexts, with practical bearing on how the Church conducts itself.

The book of the Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians who are facing social pressure to renounce their faith and return to Judaism. The author’s view is that trading Christ for social acceptance has disastrous eternal consequences. It is not surprising that the author refers to the Old Testament Scriptures that the Jewish Christians would know well; only Luke’s Gospel has more references to Genesis, and no New Testament book has more references to Genesis 1–11.
Hebrews 11 lists Abel, Enoch, and Noah, from Genesis 1–11, as heroes of the faith without distinguishing them as less historical than the other members of the list. Just like Luke 3, the author moves seamlessly from Genesis 1–11 to the rest of the Bible, without the slightest hint, ‘now we are moving from allegory or myth to history.’
The rest that the persevering believer enters into is compared to God’s rest on Day 7 as well as the rest that was promised to the Hebrews coming out of Egypt.
The author refers to Jesus as a High Priest, interceding before the Father for us. But Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, not the priestly tribe of Levi, and certainly not from the line of Aaron, through whom all the high priests of the Levitical order had to come. The author insists that Jesus is the High Priest of a new order, which was brought about by the new law. This is the order of Melchizedek – the author refers back to an obscure figure in Genesis 14:18–20, who is referred to once in Psalm 110:4, to justify Jesus’ office as High Priest.
Hebrews 11 lists Abel, Enoch, and Noah, from Genesis 1–11, as heroes of the faith without distinguishing them as less historical than the other members of the list. Just like Luke 3, the author moves seamlessly from Genesis 1–11 to the rest of the Bible, without the slightest hint, “now we are moving from allegory or myth to history.”

Peter’s epistles also show a firm belief in a historical Genesis. In 1 Peter he affirms that eight people were saved in the ark, and in 2 Peter he says that sinning angels were sent to Tartarus in close connection with the Flood as a judgement for ungodliness on the earth and saving Noah and his family in the ark. He also affirms that the earth was formed out of water, and was destroyed by water.

Jude is widely regarded as being very close to 2 Peter, and this one-chapter book has four references to Genesis. Like 2 Peter, he refers to the sinning angels, but this time it’s closely connected to the strange-flesh perversions of Sodom and Gomorrah. He also accepts Genesis 5 as a strict chronogenealogy without gaps, since Enoch is “seventh from Adam”.

The New Jerusalem is filled with Edenic imagery – the Tree of Life, river, and the continual presence of God in the New Jerusalem mark, if not a return to Eden, a restoration of redeemed humanity to unfettered access to and fellowship with God.
The interpretation of Revelation is notoriously difficult, and end-times scenarios are a point of debate among even otherwise like-minded Christians. But while Revelation may pose unique difficulties of interpretation, it also gives us some important references to Genesis. First, there is a theme of ‘uncreation’ as the earth is being destroyed – judgement in the Bible is commonly pictured as a reversal of creation, e.g. the Flood took the world back to its condition on Day 2, before the land and water had separated, so the land was totally submerged again; Jeremiah 4:23 alludes to an uncreation back to the state in Genesis 1:2 – the judgement would be so severe that it would leave the final state as empty as the earth before God created anything.
But more importantly, the New Jerusalem is filled with Edenic imagery – the Tree of Life, river, and the continual presence of God in the New Jerusalem mark, if not a return to Eden, a restoration of redeemed humanity to unfettered access to and fellowship with God. There is no more curse and no more sin in the New Jerusalem- humanity and creation is returned to an unfallen state.

It would require a book-length study to examine all the New Testament references in the depth that they deserve, but this brief overview should show how important a historical view of Genesis is for New Testament interpretation. It should also be noted that simply giving references to Genesis does not give the full picture – there are many doctrines which make no sense apart from their foundation in Genesis, and much of the New Testament teaching makes no sense unless one assumes that foundation.

New Testament references to Genesis
This list shows New Testament references by allusion or quotation to Genesis. Entries shown with parenthetical numbering show references to Genesis 1–11.
1     Matthew 1:1–3
Ancestors of Jesus
2     Matthew 2:18
3     Matthew 3:8–9
Abraham’s children
4     Matthew 10:15
Sodom and Gomorrah
5     Matthew 11:23–24
6     (1) Matthew 19:4
Quote from Gen 1:27

7     (2) Matthew 19:5
Quote from Gen 2:24

8     (3) Matthew 22:21
Man in the image of God
9     Matthew 22:31–2
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
10     (4) Matthew 23:35
Righteous Abel
11     (5) Matthew 24:37–39
Days of Noah
12     (6) Matthew 26:52
Those who draw the sword will die by the sword
13     (7) Mark 10:6
Quote from Gen 1:27

14     (8) Mark 10:7
Quote from Gen 2:24

15     (9) Mark 12:17
Man in the image of God
16     Mark 12:26
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
17     (10) Mark 13:19
God created the world
18     Luke 1:25
Elizabeth’s reproach is taken away like Rachel’s
19     Luke 1:48
Mary will be called blessed like Leah
20     Luke 1:55
Abraham and his descendents
21     Luke 1:73
God’s oath to Abraham
22     Luke 3:8
Children of Abraham
23     (11) Luke 3:29–37
Jesus is descendent of Adam
24     Luke 10:12
25     (12) Luke 10:19
Treading on serpents
26     (13) Luke 11:51
Abel the first slain prophet
27     Luke 13:16
Daughter of Abraham
28     Luke 16:22–31
29     (14) Luke 17:26–27
Days of Noah
30     Luke 17:28–29
Days of Lot
31     Luke 17:32
Lot’s wife
32     (15) Luke 20:25
Man in the image of God
33     Luke 20:37
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
34     (16) John 1:1–3
God pre-existed and created
35     John 1:51
Reference to Jacob’s ladder
36     John 4:5–6, 11–12
Jacob’s well
37     John 7:22
Circumcision came from the patriarchs
38     John 8:33
Jews are Abraham’s descendents
39     (17) John 8:44
The devil a liar and murderer
40     Acts 7:2–14
History of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
41     (18) Acts 14:15
God made Heaven and Earth and everything in them
42     (19) Acts 15:20, 29
Possible reference to Noahic covenant
43     (20) Acts 17:24
God made the earth and everything in it
44     (21) Acts 17:26
All nations descended from one man
45     (22) Romans 1:19–20
God’s power revealed through creation
46     Romans 4:1–25
Abraham justified by faith
47     (23) Romans 5:12–21
Death came because of Adam’s sin
48     (24) Romans 8:20–23
The entire creation was cursed
49     Romans 9:7–13
God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
50     Romans 15:8
Christ fulfils promises made to patriarchs
51     (25) Romans 16:20
Satan crushed under believers’ feet
52     (26) 1 Corinthians 6:16
Quote of Gen 2:24

53     (27) 1 Corinthians 11:7–8
Man in the image of God, and woman created after man
54     (28) 1 Corinthians 15:21–22
Death comes through Adam
55     (29) 1 Corinthians 15:38
Each kind of seed has its own body
56     (30) 1 Corinthians 15:45
Quote of Gen 2:7

57     (31) 1 Corinthians 15:47
First man made from dust
58     (32) 2 Corinthians 4:6
Quote of Gen 1:3

59     (33) 2 Corinthians 11:3
Eve was deceived
60     Galatians 3:6
Quote of Gen 15:6

61     Galatians 3:8
Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18

62     Galatians 3:16
Gen 12:7; 13:15; 24:7

63     (34) Galatians 4:4
Seed of the woman
64     Galatians 4:22–30
Abraham’s two sons
65     (35) Ephesians 3:9
God created all things
66     (36) Ephesians 5:31
Quote of Gen 2:24

67     (37) Colossians 1:16
All things were created by the Son
68     (38) Colossians 3:10
Image of the Creator
69     (39) 1 Timothy 2:13–14
Man created first
70     (40) 1 Timothy 2:14
Woman deceived
71     (41) 1 Timothy 4:3–5
God created everything good
72     (42) Hebrews 1:10
God created Heaven and Earth
73     (43) Hebrews 4:3–4
Quote of Gen 2:2

74     (44) Hebrews 4:10
God rested
75     Hebrews 5:1–10
Order of Melchizedek
76     Hebrews 6:13–14
Genesis 22:17

77     Hebrews 6:20–7:17
Order of Melchizedek
78     (45) Hebrews 11:3
Universe formed by God’s command
79     (46) Hebrews 11:4
Abel’s acceptable sacrifice
80     (47) Hebrews 11:5
Enoch taken away
81     (48) Hebrews 11:7
Noah’s ark
82     Hebrews 11:8–12
83     Hebrews 11:17–22
Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and Abraham’s descendents
84     Hebrews 12:16–17
Godless Esau
85     (49) Hebrews 12:24
Blood of Abel
86     James 2:21–23
Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac
87     1 Peter 3:6
Sarah submitted to Abraham
88     (50) 1 Peter 3:20
Eight saved in the ark
89     (51) 2 Peter 2:4–5
God punished sinning angels and saved Noah
90     2 Peter 2:6–8
Sodom and Gomorrah punished and Lot saved
91     (52) 2 Peter 3:5–6
Earth formed out of and destroyed by water
92     (53) 1 John 3:11–12
Cain killed Abel
93     (54) Jude 6
Disobedient angels punished (reference to “sons of God”?)
94     Jude 7
Sodom and Gomorrah
95     (55) Jude 11
96     (56) Jude 14
Enoch the seventh from Adam
97     (57) Revelation 4:3
Rainbow surrounding the throne in Heaven
98     Revelation 5:5
Lion of Judah
99     (58) Revelation 6:12–14
‘Uncreation’ theme-sun, moon, and stars
100     Revelation 10:6
God created the Heaven and Earth and all that is in them
101     Revelation 20:2
The devil is the ancient serpent
102     (59) Revelation 21
New Jerusalem—Edenic city
103     (60) Revelation 22:1–6
River of water of life and tree of life

A Christmas Letter

My Loved One

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday!  Every year there is a celebration in my honour and I think this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are also many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.

It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful for what I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration.  Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don’t know the meaning of the celebration.  I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honour.  The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates.  The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something?  I wasn’t invited!  I was the guest of honour and they didn’t remember to send me an invitation.  The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face…. And I did so want to be with them and share their table.  In truth, that didn’t surprise me because in the last few years many close their doors to me.

Since I wasn’t invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise.   I went and stood in a corner.  They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything.  They were having a grand time.  To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He even seemed drunk.  He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying “Santa Claus, Santa Claus” …as if the party was in his honour!  At 12 Midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me…and do you know…no one hugged me.

Suddenly they all began to share gifts.  They opened them one by one with great expectation and excitement.  When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me.  How would you feel, if on your birthday, everybody shared gifts and you did not get one?

I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left.

Every year it gets worse.  People only remember to eat and drink, the gifts, the parties, and nobody remembers me.

I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter your life.  I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you on the cross.  I died, was buried and rose again after 3 days, to give you hope and eternal life with God.  Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart.  As many didn’t invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party.  I’m still making the final arrangements.  Today I am sending out many invitations and there is a special invitation for you.  I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make your reservation and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book, which is called the Book of Life. Only those written on the guest list in that Book will be invited to the party.  Those who don’t answer the invitation will be left outside.  So please accept my invitation and be prepared because when all is ready, I will come and fetch you to be part of my great party.

See you soon
I love you


Remember the Persecuted

Remember the Persecuted
Over 400 million Christians live under 66 governments who restrict religious freedom and persecute believers. Every year an average of 200 000 Christians are killed for their Faith.

The Lord Jesus warned us: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…the servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Jn 15:18-20.

Faithful under fire
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your Faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet 1:6-7

 “Yes, and all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Tim 3:12. If we are seeking to be faithful to our Lord Jesus, we will suffer some persecution for it. By God’s grace, perhaps not the violent and vicious persecution which Christians in communist and Muslim lands have suffered. However, if we remain faithful to the Lord, there will be times when we will be misunderstood, slandered, discriminated against, threatened and abused.

Whether from family or friends, neighbours or co-workers, whether at school or at the work place, those who maintain a consistent testimony for the Lord are bound to suffer some abuse. When the Lord warned His disciples of coming persecution, they responded with disbelief. Because they did not believe Christ’s warning, they did not “watch and pray.” As a result, they denied the Lord and ran away.

The Apostle Paul strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to remain true to the Faith by teaching: “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

Rooted in the Word
Jesus taught that many believers would forsake Him (Matt 24:9-10) when trouble or persecution comes because of their superficial commitment. Those with no roots in God’s Word would fall away quickly (Matt 13:21). In response to the clear warnings of these Scriptures, and in the light of the increasing hostility towards Christianity in so many circles, it would be wise for every Christian to study what the Word of God has to say about persecution.

“And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Rev 12:11. Christians can overcome satan by the Blood of Christ’s atonement and by the Word of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught that we should not be afraid of those who can only kill the body and after that can do no more. The Lord told us whom we should fear. We must fear God, who after the killing of the body has power to throw both body and soul into hell, forever (Luke 12:4-5).

Refusing to worship Caesar
‘Foxes Book of Martyrs’ records many testimonies of courageous Christians who suffered for the Faith. It is interesting to note that Christians were not persecuted in the Roman Empire for worshipping Jesus. The Romans were polytheists. They had an entire pantheon of gods. If the early Christians had burnt incense before an image of Caesar, they would have been left alone. However, by refusing to participate in Emperor worship and declare “Caesar is lord”, Christians came under suspicion and violent persecution. They were not persecuted because they worshipped Christ, but because they refused to revere Caesar.

Condemning a nation
At one point in the 16th Century, the Spanish Inquisition condemned the entire nation of Holland (3 million men, women and children) to death as heretics! By God’s grace, and through the courage of Prince William the Silent and his followers, the Dutch succeeded in throwing back the Spanish invaders and winning freedom for Protestant Holland.

More Christians died for Christ in the 20th Century than in all previous 19 centuries combined. The Christian World Encyclopaedia calculated that at least 28 million Christians had been martyred in the 20th Century. During the last 30 years of missionary work I have had the privilege of serving the persecuted Church in Mozambique, Angola, Romania, Albania, Rwanda, Sudan, Northern Nigeria, the Congo and Zimbabwe. During this time we have endured aerial bombardments, ambushes, artillery and rocket barrages, and been arrested and imprisoned for missionary work.

Mocking the Gospel
On numerous occasions, Cuban soldiers in Angola have placed the heads of cattle, or an AK47, on altars, or pulpits, demanding that the Christians commit idolatry and bow before them. They have walked into services, and taken the Bible off the pulpit and thrown it by the door and demanded: “You may all leave – one by one – just spit on the Bible and you can go free. If you don’t – we will kill you!”

Communist troops have burst into church services declaring: “You Christians – you say that you worship the Lamb – well here is a lamb!”  The Cubans taunted the worshippers as they started pouring the blood of this lamb over the believers saying “the blood of the lamb is shed amongst you – worship the lamb!”

The head of the lamb was placed mockingly on the pulpit and people were dragged and forced to their knees to bow down before it. Christians who have escaped from communist concentration camps and prisons have told how they were often tortured by the Marxists.  One prisoner told me of a time in Angola when they were near breaking point and one of them shouted out: “Why don’t you just kill us, and get it over with?” The response of the communist concentration camp guards was enlightening: “Oh no, we don’t want to send you to Heaven to be with God! No, we want you to curse Christ and to come to hell with us, for all eternity!”

The aim of persecution
The aim of persecution is not to kill Christians. There is no victory to the kingdom of darkness when Christians to go to Heaven. The aim of persecution is to intimidate Christians into silence, to persuade believers to compromise, to terrify Christians to giving in to cowardice.

If the devil cannot stop us being converted, he at least wants to divert us and distract us so that we are not effective in winning others to Christ.

As long as you refuse to be intimidated into silence, neutrality and compromise, persecution fails. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? And what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’” Matt 16:24-26

How can you help?
In 1987, while leading a Frontline Mission team across the border, we were arrested, stripped and beaten. Thrown into cells covered with human filth; deprived of water and food, blindfolded and thrown into an overcrowded prison with no beds or electricity in the cells. The whole prison seemed to be one big stinking disease factory. With our shoes taken away, walking barefoot, with cut and bleeding feet, amongst this filth, we could only imagine how many infections and diseases God protected us from. In our prison cell there was Isaiah Moyo, a young South African, who had been wrongfully imprisoned.

Isaiah had been severely tortured and burnt with red hot pokers. His knees were calloused from the many hours he spent kneeling on the concrete floor praying to the Lord. When, by God’s grace, international prayer and pressure forced the Zambian government to open the prison doors and set us free, and I determined to campaign for the release of Isaiah Moyo.

Publicising their plight
Later I heard that prison wardens had rushed with their radios to Isaiah Moyo in Lusaka Central Prison shouting: “Isaiah, that white South African missionary who was locked in here, he is speaking on the radio – and he is talking about you!”

Isaiah heard the tail-end of my interview as I gave people his prison address, and requested them to send care packages, with salt, soap, sugar, vitamins, pens, paper, etc. Isaiah later told us that from that time on, he was never mistreated again. Mail sacks of letters and parcels were dragged into the cell. He became the most popular person in prison. He had so many trading items which everyone wanted, people couldn’t do enough favours for him.

Setting the captives free
The BBC World Service radio programme had raised him to celebrity status in the prison. Soon he was set free and allowed to travel back to South Africa to be reunited with his wife and two children. This was my first experience of seeing what an influence Christians can have through prayer and pressure. Publicity provides protection for the persecuted.

As our Lord Jesus taught in Luke 18:1-5 – even an unjust judge will do what is right in response to persistent prayer and pressure. As virtually every dictatorship in the world is a beneficiary of vast amounts of foreign aid from Western nations, this provides leverage. Most dictators prefer foreign aid to foreign prisoners. If given a choice, they will let the prisoners go free in order to continue to receive the Western dollars, pounds or euros.

Whatever we bind will be bound, whatever we loose will be loosed. By the power of prayer, and through persistent pressure, we can see the powers of darkness limited, prison doors opened and captives set free.

—by Peter Hammond

How to Really Love Your Adult Child

How to Really Love Your Adult Child
Having four grown children of my own, I was particularly interested to meet with Dr Gary Chapman at the International Christian Retail Show and to talk to him about his new book, ‘How To Really Love Your Adult Child’. I questioned him about some of the things that have always concerned me – like, why some kids from dysfunctional families turn out great and grow into mature and practising Christ-followers. And, at the same time, others who grow up in seemingly Godly homes rebel against their Christian heritage and drift off into a purpose-less life?

A product of family dynamics
His answer was that often kids from a dysfunctional family see the chaos and misery that ensues and determine that their lives and their families will be different. They learn from the mistakes of their parents and follow a different direction with the help of God. Some seemingly Godly homes may not be all that they appear to be and kids from these may decide that what their parents professed, was not the genuine article.

There is also the question of why children from the same family and upbringing turn out differently. In addition to differences in temperament, there is the fact that the dynamics of the family change over time. The first-born child might be smothered with care and attention. But by the time baby #4 or #5 comes along the competition has really heated up.

Parenting alters, but never stops
Dr Chapman went on to explain that much has changed in the relationship between parents and their adult children. Economic upheavals, challenges to traditional values and beliefs, the phenomenon of over involved ‘helicopter parenting’ – all make relating to grown children more difficult than ever. Yet at the same time, being a parent of an adult child can bring great rewards.

At every stage of a child’s development, parents tend to think, “after this, it will get easier.” The truth is, with each new stage, the task of parenting differs. Out of your house doesn’t mean out of your life – and out of school doesn’t always mean out of the house! The challenges of parenting don’t end at 18, but the immense supply of parenting advice and resources do…

We all crave our parents’ love
That’s why Drs Ross Campbell and Gary Chapman, best-selling authors and counsellors, have teamed up to bring you a new and invaluable resource for handling the responsibilities that come with parenting your adult child. Our children might make choices we disagree with or face trials we aren’t prepared for. In ‘How to Really Love Your Adult Child’, we’ve found excellent advice that will help you give them the love, understanding and guidance they still desperately need and crave from you.

Tips for dealing with young adults who don’t move out
You may have seen the t-shirt: “It’s not an empty nest until they get their stuff out of the garage.” Maybe for you, that may not be remotely funny. Dr Chapman quoted the interesting statistic that in America, 75% of college graduates will return home to live with their parents (the statistics are very similar in affluent households in South Africa). Often they have emotional scars and are discouraged, depressed and frustrated. With all their education, they can’t get a job, or, the only job they can find is a low paying one. It is then that parents have an important role in loving them.

At the same time the parent has a responsibility to live by their own morals and values. There needs to be a clear set of rules – such as, no alcohol or drugs. The parent can’t control their offspring’s behaviour outside the house and the freedom they enjoy outside the house. But whilst living under the same roof, the child must abide by the parents’ rules. Four other helpful tips include:

1. Maintain open communication
Each family member should feel free to share their ideas and feelings, and together, a family, should come to a consensus when there’s an issue. Parents should listen to the thoughts, feelings and desires of their adult children. This does not mean that children have the final word, but parents should indicate that they take their children’s opinions seriously.

2. Free yet accountable
Those living at home must assume responsibility in specific areas of the house, be it finance, chores or common courtesies. Some responsibility for the welfare and peace of the family must go to the adult child living at home.

3. Consider your own sanity
Some parents are able to disconnect and let a young adult come and go as he or she pleases, while others are not. Most parents want to know when their adult child will return; otherwise they worry for his or her safety. You need to know your limitations and if need be, set an appropriate rule that everyone lets others know when they will be back at night.

You cannot help or influence others if you don’t first take care of your own needs. This may even touch on the state of a child’s room – sometimes closing the door is better than looking at a mess.

4. Set time limits and goals
Setting a goal regarding when the adult child will move out can give him/her motivation. Boundaries may vary as situations differ, and goals and time limits may need to be renegotiated along the way, but it is important to have them in place from the beginning.

When lifestyle choices cause pain
Whether you believe in moral absolutes or simply prefer that your children not engage in behaviour that makes you uncomfortable, you probably are disturbed when you watch them follow the morally ambiguous road. As a parent you may feel intense emotional pain, disrespect, or even rejection when the choices of your adult children violate Christian standards of behaviour and thought. Two common lifestyle choices that adults make, which Christian parents often battle with, includes choosing to live together/engage in pre-marital sex, and homosexuality/lesbianism.

Loving a child beyond behaviour
There continues to be much controversy, even among experts, on the treatment of homosexuality. But regardless of how parents categorise homosexuality – as unnatural, abnormal, and sinful – it is a struggle with certain people and needs to be dealt with in a redemptive manner. As a parent, be aware that in most cases if one has a strong homosexual desire, the attraction to other members of the same sex may continue for a long time. The Christian message is that we all are sinners equally fallen before a holy God, who reached out to us by sending Christ to deliver us from our sins. Thus, we are to love all who stray, including our children, just as God loves us. Jesus was criticised by the religious people of His day because He associated with sinners, but He knew that He could not influence people without being with them. We too will have our greatest influence if we accept our children, spend time with them, communicate with them, and demonstrate our love for them, even though we do not approve of their lifestyle.

Dealing with sin under your roof
Many young people believe living together without the benefit of marriage is a totally justified way of forming life’s most intimate relationship. Permissive influences in society and fear of commitment are the main reasons they give for cohabiting. They also find their choice glorified in the media. While many do this openly, some may maintain separate dwellings for the sake of appearances. Thus your adult child may live with you but spend nights at the ‘friend’s house’ (or invite the ‘friend’ to spend nights at your house).

Your rules, your home…?
If your adult child lives at home, be sure to have house rules concerning overnight guests. His/her relationship doesn’t mean that you must tolerate inappropriate sexual behaviour in your home. Remaining pleasant and firm, you may require that your adult child and the friend sleep in separate bedrooms if they choose to spend the night in your home. Our attitudes as parents are important. If we are upset, belligerent, or scold our children who have live-in arrangements, they will likely display an even more tenacious defiance.

Rely on God’s grace
It can be difficult for parents caught in this situation to be civil, but it is usually better to treat your child’s live-in mate as a likeable person and show common courtesies to him or her. With God’s grace you can behave with love and kindness, even though you do not approve of their behaviour.

Your tone of voice, handshake and occasional hugs can help maintain an amicable relationship, though at the same time you may give caution and ask questions of your child about the relationship to show your concern and dissatisfaction with the live-in situation.

Give your children freedom
You should remind yourself that your child loves you and needs you, and that he/she knows exactly how you are affected by their behaviour. Your child knows that your continuing to be a loving parent does not mean that you approve of their behaviour or that you are violating your own values.

Give your children the freedom to make their own decisions. If they begin to reap negative consequences of what you believe to be poor decisions, you should not limit, or actively remove these. Of course, you can give emotional support and walk with them, that’s part of being redemptive. There is always room to build a good relationship and communication with your adult child. You can begin by acknowledging your own failures and asking forgiveness. This often stimulates a more positive relationship. You can then go on to become your child’s cheerleader and sounding board.

Remember that you were young once too and that you need to have humility and grace when parenting your adult child.

The power of prayer
One of the most powerful vehicles for influencing your adult child is prayer. The heart of the legacy you want to leave your children is spiritual – that is to know the Lord and to serve Him. The praying parent is a wise parent. Often you may not know how to deal with a situation or what advice to offer your adult child – but God does. Remember that whilst your children are on their own, you can influence them for good. Through your character and integrity, you may influence them to adopt your pattern. Parenting your adult child may at times be challenging, even difficult, but it is a blessing too as you are able to influence future generations.

—compiled by Nico Bougas

Henri Hikes Home

The fourth of June was a Saturday like any other. Rugby at Andrew’s school. A potjie simmering on the stove. Children on the go. It was one of those brilliant, clear winter days. Table Mountain darkly etched against the true-blue sky. Snow-white clouds watching over the city, motionless. Windless trees. A perfect day for diving in the calm waters of Miller’s Point.
At six o’ clock we received a phone call from Piet van Niekerk, Henri’s diving partner. It was a phone call that changed our lives irrevocably: Henri had been attacked by a shark. The NSRI had been searching for him since four ‘o clock. I knew – our middle child had died …

Nowhere to be found
Henri’s zest for life was still everywhere around us after his departure: his wet shirt in the Uno, the papers in his waste-paper basket, the food scraps in his hostel fridge. Behind his bedroom door his white hospital coat with stethoscope and notes that he had made on his ward rounds that morning. Henri was still tangibly present in everything surrounding us.
It was he who had put the empty plate in the sink before he went diving. It was he who had left the wet towel on the bathroom floor. How then could Henri be dead if there were still signs that he had been  busy with something shortly before?
Was Henri’s death a mistake? Was it a blunder that he was specifically at that place, on that day, where so many other scuba divers safely complete their training? Was it a slip-up that during his dive, there was a shark at that place, with the whole wide ocean around?
Did God momentarily look the other way? No, our God is not a God of mistakes. No matter how heavily we are burdened by Henri being torn away, there are too many things that affirm that his days on earth were measured and complete…

A heavenly homecoming
Amongst Henri’s belongings I found a photo of him walking across a wooden bridge, his back to the camera. Barefoot. Carefree. His backpack casually hooked over his shoulders. Looking at the picture I realised that Henri had in fact walked across another such bridge and into Eternity. Henri hiked home. He would never again cross our threshold – what this would mean for those of us who stayed behind, I could not know.
The only thing I did know and still believe is that God does not allow anything to slip out of His hand. He allowed Henri to come home early in life. Thinking of logical reasons, or questioning God’s will, only leaves one confused and exhausted.  I needn’t ask anything. God understands when (even today) I sit with Him and lament in wordless distress. He understands when I call out, ‘Oh, Lord!’

Grieving at God’s feet
In our Western society we are not equipped to cope with the things that would slow us down in the global race to be better, faster and superior – death being the top speed breaker, especially when it concerns a child. Although it is a personal process, I believe that there are many common factors for those who grieve.
Those who mourn are often not sure how to, while those who comfort may lack the understanding and ability to offer consolation. Through my book, ‘Henri Hikes Home’, I sincerely wish to share with others what I have learnt while grieving at the Lord’s feet.

What I have learnt
I learnt to be honest with myself about my feelings, and not to clutch my sorrow in my hand, but to open up and allow my pain to breathe in order for me to pass it – and the hope that accompanies it – on.
God can use anything in our lives to His glory, even tremendous heartache. I have learnt to embrace my brokenness. Of course I do not wish for Henri to be dead, but through his death I am able to fling open my door and invite others in so that they can feel sheltered and welcome.

Finding comfort in His presence
Many things happen in your heart and soul when you’re grieving. This is why it is an active process of spiritual moulding. In the morning when the house quietens down, I withdraw. In our bedroom the winter sun casts a warm, yellow patch on the carpet, I see myself like that before God – a small heap of potshards – in the soft patch of sunlight.
I have nothing to offer Him. I merely sit in His presence as He fills me with His grace. He doesn’t give answers or an instant course in mourning. I simply experience the soothing solace of just sitting like this. Gradually I begin to understand Jesus’ words: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Henri hikes home is not only the story of  Henri’s life and death.  It is the story of our family which remained whole in the presence of abundant love, despite our brokenness. It is a story of hope for everyone with immense sorrow; for everyone who carries a heavy burden of loss. And, it is a song of praise to the God of life who never forsakes His children. 
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