Minister warns of 'evil' immigrantsBy Frank Lockwood
HERALD-LEADER RELIGION WRITER
If you haven't checked out the Bible Belt Blogger yet, you can find Frank Lockwood's observations of the faith community at www.kentucky.com.
Here's a sampling of what the Herald-Leader's religion writer posted this week:
A Southern Baptist minister from Lexington warned his congregation Sunday morning that "evil" immigrants pose a threat to the nation.
The Rev. Paul Sisk, pastor at Anchor Baptist Church, made the comments during a sermon titled "Surrounded -- What to Do?"
A local Muslim leader quickly denounced Sisk's message.
In the printed sermon, Sisk gave to the Bible Belt Blogger, Sisk warned that "Islamofascists" have declared war on Jews and Christians around the world and suggested Americans should back Israel's ongoing war in Lebanon.
The "Islamofascists," he writes, "will not stop coming. They cannot be reasoned with or appeased. ... This is indeed World War III."
Many Southern Baptists believe that war in the Middle East is a precursor to the second coming of Christ and that Christians are morally obligated to side with the modern Jewish state. Sisk echoed this message in Sunday's sermon.
"Israel is still the chosen nation of God,' Sisk said, but he warned that the Jewish homeland is beseiged by hostile forces.
"We believers are also surrounded," Sisk wrote. "It is becoming more and more difficult to be a professing Christian in this world. It is not very bad in America yet! But there are forces of evil who are hell-bent on changing that. They are crossing our borders, infiltrating our schools, birthing children at a far greater rate, and they are influencing the government and the courts. Many Americans are aiding them and under the umbrella of tolerance are giving away our security. It will not be long before we may feel surrounded."
Anchor Baptist Church, where summer attendance has topped 300, is a conservative, overwhelmingly white congregation with a massive choir and a traditional song service. Launched about six years ago, many of its members broke away from Immanuel Baptist Church. It has nearly outgrown its sanctuary -- which was built in 2005. A new building fund has already been established.
Sisk is not the only evangelical to side with Israel, but his characterization of immigrants surprised John Parks, chairman of the board of trustees of Bilal Mosque in Lexington. "I know a lot of immigrants who are Muslim," said Parks. "The ones I've run into are all people that teach peace," he said.
Temple Adath Israel Rabbi Marc Kline was on the road and unavailable for comment. But in an interview earlier this month, he suggested that Christians shouldn't place the "Chosen People" label on the Israeli nation. "I don't think that there's anything unique about one people over another that entitles them to greater status because of God or religion," Kline said. "If we don't believe that we're all God's children, then we're part of the problem."
The Rev. David Yonggi Cho, pastor of an 800,000-member Pentecostal congregation, will be speaking at a church growth conference in Louisville Oct. 8-10.
The South Korean preacher is keynote speaker at the event, which is sponsored by Evangel World Prayer Center, one of the state's largest megachurches.
Nobody knows more about church growth than Cho. In 1958, he started a church in Seoul with five members. Five decades later, he preaches to the multitudes.
"This is the largest church in the world and in Christian history," said John N. Vaughan, author of The Worlds' 20 Largest Churches. "Not Even the Vatican comes close to this."
To accommodate the throng, Yoido Full Gospel Church holds 31 services each week, including seven on Sunday. On weekdays, services start as early as 5 a.m. The all-night prayer services end at 3 a.m.
In a city where real estate costs $9 million per acre, Cho's church does all it can to get maximum use out of its property. Classes meet in the hallways and even in the parking garage, Vaughan said. "They're using all the space they've got," he added.
Cho, a leader in the Assemblies of God fellowship, has been criticized for preaching what he calls the "threefold blessing." Cho says that God wants to bless Christians by giving them salvation, good health, and material abundance.
This won't be Cho's first visit to Kentucky. He was friends with the Rev. Waymon Rodgers, Evangel's late longtime pastor. Large crowds are expected for Cho's Louisville appearance.