“It’s time we put the Bible on prime time.” So said Ronald Remy a year ago. Today his two-hour program, “Turn-on 13,” which incorporates a Bible quiz for students and a Christian music competition, is one of the top-rated Sunday prime-time TV shows in the Philippines.
Remy, an articulate and well-loved entertainment figure before his born-again experience in a Roman Catholic renewal three years ago, says, “TV is one of the best ways to get the unbelieving public excited about the Word of God, but the program must be exciting.”
His show has met with mixed reactions from Christians. The Philippine Bible Society (PBS) and the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) support it. The FEBC cosponsors the Christian music competition with a local music company, and they determine the best singer and best composition. The PBS has donated this year’s championship prizes: an all-expense-paid world tour (first prize) and a Holy Land tour (second prize). It has also printed a special edition of the Good News Bible (the edition used on the show) with a “Turn-on 13” Bible quiz jacket. Several thousand copies have been sold.
Some Roman Catholics and Protestants, however, are turned off by Remy because his biggest sponsor is the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes, and home viewers may participate in a grand raffle.
He also accepts liquor and cigarette advertisements. He says they are not explicitly prohibited in the Bible and that even Jesus did not condemn wine drinking at Cana.
The number of missionaries sent out by Third World churches topped 13,000 last year. The World Evangelical Fellowship says that this barometer of evangelical resurgence is up from 3,000 in 1970.
In an unusual gesture, the Irish Republic is honoring a Protestant missionary to America. A commemorative postage stamp it is issuing next month marks the ordination 300 years ago of Francis Makemie from County Donegal, who is regarded as the founder of Presbyterianism in America. Makemie emigrated to the colonies, organized the first Presbyterian church at Snow Hill, Maryland, in 1684, and the first presbytery at Philadelphia two years later, becoming its moderator. As a non-Anglican, he was arrested on Long Island, fined, and imprisoned for preaching without a license. The case eventually secured the rights of dissenting clergy to preach in the colonies. Irish Presbyterians—now predominantly in Northern Ireland—will celebrate the Makemie tricentennial in September. They have just elected a moderate, Eric Gardner, as their next moderator.
John Stott is launching an institute of studies for lay people in London next month. The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity will begin by offering six 10-week courses taught by Stott, Os Guinness, and others. The concept of graduate courses in Christian faith, life, and mission for professional and business people was pioneered by Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada, and extended to New College, Berkeley, California, in the United States. But Stott’s championing of the approach should give it a strong boost.
A national day of prayer and fasting for the Siberian Seven and the suffering Russian church is being called for The “Chapel of the Air,” a Wheaton, Illinois-based radio program, is urging that Wednesday, March 31 be set apart for the prayer vigil. Project coordinator James P. Hilt says that believers in the Soviet Union have been alerted to pray for American Christians on the same day.
A plan to save Singapore from becoming a nation of thieves was recently unveiled by its government. It is introducing religion as a compulsory element of its school curriculum. Education minister Goh Keng Swee said that when he was defense minister he noticed a common occurrence in the barracks: a wallet or watch left unattended for more than 10 seconds disappeared. A three-year study by moral education committees led to the conclusion that students should have the option of studying one of Singapore’s four main religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, or Islam—or else a combined world religions course. Private religious schools may introduce the courses immediately.
Israel’s Ministry for Religious Affairs provides a 20 percent subsidy for an agency that operates an anti-missionary arm. According to figures gleaned from the state comptroller’s latest annual report (for 1979), government sources provided about $40,000 to Yad Le’Achim, a private organization that helps settle newcomers to Israel. But according to sources in Israel, its Social Services Department is really organized for anti-Christian activity, as substantiated by report figures that reveal that only $30 out of a department budget of $2,300 was used to support needy families. The report acknowledges that the government passes on to Yad Le’Achim “facts and information which came to hand in the ministry through individual citizens and various bodies,” information used to assist the group in its anti-missionary harrassment campaigns.
Government and church leaders are feuding again in Uganda. Late last year four Christian and Muslim religious leaders submitted a memorandum to President Milton Obote, complaining about lax discipline and cruelty in the army and calling for a committee with opposition political and religious representation to monitor security affairs. The memorandum was leaked to the press outside Uganda in spite of an understanding about not involving the press. Annoyed, government leaders verbally attacked the religious figures for interfering in politics. They singled out for criticism Anglican Archbishop Silvanus Wani, expressing dismay that he, after succeeding a murdered fellow bishop, would have the temerity to endorse a document that compared the current government unfavorably with the Idi Amin dictatorship.
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