Cristo can move mountains, Spanish-speaking church believes

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Part of The Christian Chronicle’s “One Nación Under God” special project.

Cristo can move mountains, Spanish-speaking church believes (reporting from Elgin, Ill.): In a Chicago suburb, a Latino congregation experiences growth and contemplates a multicultural future.

ELGIN, Ill. — Tears of joy flowed as the Elgin Church of Christ, a Spanish-speaking congregation northwest of Chicago, stood and sang the invitation song.

For the 305 men, women and children who filled the Iglesia de Cristo’s auditorium on this recent Sunday, the hymn’s words — translated into English below — held special meaning:

Savior, he can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

The voices that rang out testified to this fast-growing congregation’s emotional, 25-year journey — from an Anglo church’s basement to a cramped rented facility to this first assembly in an 11,000-square-foot building all its own.

“I can’t believe it,” said Hector Gonzalez, 71, one of the handful of original members. “We work for a long time and try and try and try. Finally, God hear you.”

Gonzalez touched his hands to his heart as he tried — in broken English — to put his glee into words.

This story appears in the October 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Saving the souls of Latinos

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Part of The Christian Chronicle’s “One Nación Under God” special project.

Saving the souls of Latinos (reporting from Benton, Ark.): Reaching Hispanics requires understanding diverse cultures and sharing the Gospel in English as well as Spanish, ministers suggest at national meeting.

BENTON, Ark. — As Omar Corpus sees it, reaching the United States’ fast-growing Hispanic population with the Gospel takes a different approach than in his native Mexico.

“When a Mexican preacher or a South American preacher comes to work in the U.S., they try to work like in Latin America,” said Corpus, a church planter in Arlington, Texas. “But here it is a different context.”

In Mexico, knocking doors, sharing Bible pamphlets and preaching via a loud microphone in a public park might lead to conversions.

But in his Texas ministry, he said friendship evangelism — such as inviting neighbors and relatives to worship — makes a bigger impact.

At the same time, some people lump together all Latin American cultures, said Carlos Inglés, who was born in El Salvador and serves the Impact Church of Christ in Houston.

“When they think about ‘Hispanic,’ some people think ‘Mexican,’” Inglés said. “But if you call a person from Nicaragua a Mexican, they may be offended. Or you may say, ‘Oh, you eat tacos.’ Well, in Peru, they don’t eat tacos.”

Corpus and Inglés were among 120 ministers and church leaders who attended the 12th annual Reunión Nacional de Predicadores —  which means National Meeting of Preachers.

Related story: Soccer, tortillas and unity: National Hispanic meeting builds up preachers (reporting from Benton, Ark.)

This story appears in the October 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

TGIF: For Friday fulfillment, five female-friendly faith features

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TGIF: For Friday fulfillment, five female-friendly faith features

GETRELIGION.ORG — Via a food truck, a Lutheran clergy member delivers hot calzones — and nuggets of Scripture.

Two Roman Catholics in their 80s provide spiritual care for immigrants facing deportation. An Assembly of God pastor battles prostitution and pimps.

Weeks after contracting the often-deadly Ebola virus, an evangelical Christian missionary leaves the hospital in good health. A Hasidic Jewish rock band tries to reach a broader audience.

What do they have in common?

They’re all women. 

For your weekend reading pleasure, here are five compelling religion stories (some pulled from my GetReligion guilt folder) that feature women of faith. No, not those Women of Faith, although I hope they check out the links, too.

This analysis of media coverage appears online at GetReligion.org.

Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly released from hospital

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Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly released from hospital: ‘Today is a miraculous day. I’m thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family,’ the medical missionary says. 

Just a few weeks ago, the prognosis for Dr. Kent Brantly — a Church of Christ member who contracted the often-deady Ebola virus while serving in Liberia — was described as “grave.”

But today, the medical missionary whose illness sparked prayers by Christians around the world was released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Related post: It’s a ‘miraculous day’ for Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly, but what role did prayer play?

These items appear in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle and at GetReligion.org.

In Kentucky, a dispute over church, state and taxpayer-funded foster care

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In Kentucky, a dispute over church, state and taxpayer-funded foster care (reporting from Melber, Ky.): Rather than adhere to proselytization rules, a Christian children’s home gives up its seven-figure state funding.

MELBER, Ky. — Surrounded by pastureland and soybean, corn and tobacco fields, a rural children’s home associated with Churches of Christ cared for abused and neglected boys and girls for 24 years.

In the last fiscal year, New Pathways for Children received $1.3 million in state funding to provide around-the-clock care and therapeutic treatment for up to 27 boys and 12 girls at a time, state records show.

But in recent weeks, the western Kentucky home gave up its government contract and returned all the children in its care — many with severe needs such as drug dependencies and mental health issues — to the state, executive director Ricky Burse told The Christian Chronicle.

The action came after the state asked the Christian child-care organization to accept new contract language that the home believed infringed on its religious liberty.

In an interview on New Pathways’ 25-acre boys’ campus — 260 miles southwest of the state capital of Frankfort — Burse said he consulted with the home’s attorneys about the new language.

This story appears in the October 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

God and journalism: American reportedly beheaded by ISIS wrote about his faith

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God and journalism: American reportedly beheaded by ISIS wrote about his faith

GETRELIGION.ORG — What absolutely crushing news.

Amid all the brutal headlines involving the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria (important background here) came a YouTube video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

This analysis of media coverage appears online at GetReligion.org.

Amen to this question: ‘What the hell is happening in Ferguson, Mo.?’

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Amen to this question: ‘What the hell is happening in Ferguson, Mo.?’

GETRELIGION.ORG — In Ferguson, Mo. — dubbed “Baghdad, USA” by The Huffington Post and labeled a “A CITY ON EDGE” in a banner headline by today’s St. Louis Post-DispatchWednesday’s arrests of two prominent journalists for the apparent crime of doing their jobs caused a Twitterstorm.

The social media outrage produced some, um, religious overtones.

Those of us who write for GetReligion are religion journalists. But first of all, we are journalists. As such, I can’t help but say “Amen!” to the question by McBride, a leading expert on media ethics at the Poynter Institute.

Related post: Pod people: Vigils, protests and church activism in wake of #Ferguson

Related postIn #Ferguson, a tale of two churches — one white, one black

Related storyAmid chaos and protests, a Church of Christ in Missouri seeks calm

Related storyCommunity prayer vigil at Church of Christ in Ferguson, Mo., draws 300

These items appear online at GetReligion.org and in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.